The Battles for Cumberland Gap 1861 – 1862

The Geography of Cumberland Gap
The Cumberland Gap is a natural passageway through the Cumberland Plateau of the Cumberland Mountains, which are part of the southeastern Appalachians. The Gap is located near the point where the states of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee meet—between Middlesboro, Kentucky and the town of Cumberland Gap, which is located below the Gap at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains on the northern boundary of Northeast Tennessee.
The Cumberland Gap region includes one county in Virginia, four counties in Kentucky, and five counties in Tennessee—Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, and Union—all within a 25-mile radius of the Cumberland Gap. This area spans across mountains, rivers, and lakes.
Several American Civil War engagements occur in and around the Cumberland Gap; they are known collectively as the Battle of Cumberland Gap.

A Foggy morning at Cumberland Gap

Kentucky declared herself neutral on 16 May 1861. The state’s neutrality is broken on 4 September 1861, exposing the entire northern boundary of Tennessee to possible invasion.

First Occupation of Cumberland Gap
CSA Gen. Felix Zollicoffer, commander of the Department of East Tennessee at Knoxville, takes the initiative and marches his forces to Cumberland Gap. He easily overcomes the local Home Guard and occupies the Gap, and builds earthwork fortifications to stave of any Union invasion of Northeast Tennessee. They erect seven forts on the north facing slope, and cleared the mountains of all trees within one mile of each fort.
A soldier wrote, “It is the roughest place in the world, but we are going to stick the mountain full of cannon to prevent the Lincolnites from crossing.”

MINI BIO: CSA Gen. Felix Kirk Zollicoffer
In 1860 newspaperman Felix Zollicoffer urged Tennesseans to remain loyal to the Union. When the state seceded in June 1861, however, he fully supported the decision. Tennessee Governor Isham Harris rewarded Zollicoffer with a commission of brigadier general on 9 July 1861.
On 26 July 1861 Harris sent the new general to Knoxville to command the new Department of East Tennessee. A large majority of that region’s population has continued to support the United States.
Zollicoffer’s orders were to enforce secession in the eastern counties and to control the Unionists, in case they might have any ideas of rebelling against the new Confederate government.
Gen. Felix Zollicoffer attempted to pacify East Tennessee’s pro-Union population with a lenient policy and the stationing of only fifteen companies of troops in the region.
On 8 August 1861 Isham Harris was re-elected governor of Tennessee; on 18 August, he ordered Zollicoffer to arrest and, if necessary, banish Unionist leaders from the state, changing Zollicoffer’s policy from leniency to force.

8 OCTOBER 1861
Excerpt from a letter from Dr. U. G. Owen to his wife
Cumberland Gap Tenn. Oct. 8th 1861.
Mrs. U. G. Owen
We are camped on the mountain at the Gap. It is so cold that I can scarcely write this evening. … We are building forts, breastworks, &c of every sort, going to stick the mountain full of cannons to prevent the Lincolnites from crossing. We have one hundred at work every day, building fortifications.
I have my tent up on the side of the mountain, plenty of straw on the floor, plenty of cover to keep me warm at night. I also have a cot to sleep on – brought from Knoxville – did not cost me anything. It Rained hard all day yesterday and part of Sunday. I have not been here long enough yet to find out anything about the people.
I will have to get me a horse – to [would love to have] our little horse from home but I hardly know how to get him here but I must have horse certain. Your Pa may know of some body coming to Knoxville and to Cumberland Gap who would bring him. They could ride him from Knoxville here.
I hope you are well satisfied at your Aunt’s … Don’t be uneasy about me because I will keep well & do well here or wherever I may go or be sent.
Our Regiment is nearly all well & about, very few sick. We are all camped here around the corner of three States, Tenn, Kentucky & Virginia. My tent is in Virginia, Dr. Compton’s in Ky, several are in Tenn. Battle’s Regiment is 13 miles from here … in Kentucky.
I see some of them [civilians] every day almost bringing salt that they captured from the Lincolnites at the Salt Works in Ky.
I want you to write me everything, tell me if you are satisfied there.
Dr. U. G. Owen to Laura, October 8, 1861.

October 24, 1861
Excerpt from another letter to Mrs. U. G. Owen
Cumberland Gap the 24th 1861
Mrs. U. G. Owen, My beloved Wife
We expect a fight here soon. General Zollicoffer is retreating back this way. They had a little fight at Rock Castle [River] Ky. He sent an order here last night to place our cannon & have them in Readiness. We worked all night at that & building breastworks. Col. Churchwell issued an order last evening for all the women to leave the Regiment, the kind of women you saw there at Camp Sneed – bad kind.
Laura, you want to come here but if you were here a while you would want to get away. Cold & wet, no house to get in, no fire but a little smoky one out of doors. I would not like for you to be here in that condition, and I will tell you that we are alarmed here and may have to retreat in a hurry.
I don’t want you to come here now while there is danger. I can’t tell one day where we will be next. Write me often. At Present I am in a great hurry. I will write again in a few days.
Your devoted husband
Dr. U. G. Owen to Laura, October 24, 1861.

Zollicoffer determines to establish defensive line at Jacksborough to thwart expected Federal invasion of Tennessee from Kentucky.
Twenty-three miles from Montgomery.
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector Gen., Richmond:
… I left the regiments of Cols. Churchwell and Rains at Cumberland Gap, busily engaged in completing the works there. Within a week or ten days I think the defenses there will be very strong. I think the Jacksborough routes can soon be made effectively impassable, and then I hope to move by the Jamestown route and advance.
If you will examine the topography of the country, you will perceive I have passed to this point along a valley at the foot of the mountain. The road is good. To pass from Jacksborough direct to Huntsville or Montgomery or Jamestown direct, I would have to pursue a mountain road, poor and broken, and the mountain is generally 30 or 40 miles wide.
Very respectfully,
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 4, pp. 530-531.


19 JANUARY 1862
Gen. Felix Zollicoffer is killed at the Battle of Mill Springs in Kentucky, but the Gap remains in Confederate control. The defenses are now manned by Col. James Edward Rains and his troops. 

CSA Col. James Edwards Rains.

MINI BIO: Col. James Edwards Rains
James Edwards Rains, a Nashville native, graduates second in the Yale Law School Class of 1854. Before the American Civil War, he works as city attorney and associate editor of the Daily Republican Banner under Felix Zollicoffer. In April 1861 Rains enlists as a private in the Confederate army and spends most of his military service in Northeast Tennessee under his old boss, now Confederate general, Felix Zollicoffer.
After Gen. Zollicoffer is killed at Mill Springs [19 January 1862], Col. James Edwards Rains and his troops man the defenses at the Cumberland Gap, repulsing numerous attempts by Union forces to seize the vital passageway. For his excellent service at the Gap, Col. James Edwards Rains is nominated as a brigadier general on 4 November 1862. The Confederate Senate has not confirmed his nomination when he is killed while leading his brigade at the Battle of Stones River on 31 December 1862. He was 29 years old.

14 FEBRUARY 1862.
Reports of Skirmish near Cumberland Gap.
Report of USA Gen. Samuel. P. Carter, Twelfth Brigade.
Capt. J. B. FRY, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., and Chief of Staff.
CAPT.: A reconnaissance was made to-day by a company of First Battalion Kentucky Cavalry, under the immediate command of Lieut.-Col. Munday [who] reports that he advanced quite close to the Gap; attacked the enemy’s cavalry picket; killed 5, wounded 2, and took 2 prisoners, 8 horses, 7 sabers, and 5 double-barrel shot-guns. No one was injured in the colonel’s command. Our party advanced so near the enemy’s defenses that they got within range of their batteries, which opened on them, when they returned to camp.

Report of CSA Col. James E. Rains.
SIR: I am convinced that the enemy will attack us at this place within a week. An attack to-morrow is probable. Their cavalry drove in our pickets to-day about 3 miles in advance of us. The force, seven regiments, are reported to be at Cumberland Ford, 15 miles in front. The force we have cannot hold the place, being insufficient to man the works.
The strength of the position has been greatly exaggerated. On the Kentucky side it is naturally very weak and difficult to defend. … It will require two regiments, in addition to the two now here, to resist the force menacing us. The position should never be abandoned. Its strategic importance cannot be exaggerated. … If abandoned, it cannot be easily retaken. Can re-enforcements be sent us?
JAMES E. RAINS, Col., Cmdg. Post.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, p. 417

18 FEBRUARY 1862
the whole East Tennessee border is much exposed …
SIR: In a dispatch of the 14th instant I acquainted you with the fact that our cavalry pickets had been attacked by the cavalry of the enemy and that an attack on this place was probable.
During the night following the engagement between the pickets there fell a deep snow, which, followed by constant rains up to this time, has placed the roads and streams between us and the enemy in such condition that an immediate attack is improbable.
Several days of fair weather much elapse before the enemy, distant about a day’s march, would attempt to reach us. By a dispatch from Colonel Vance, commanding at Knoxville, I learn that three regiments are on their way to re-enforce us. If these regiments reach us in time the place is safe against any force that can be brought over the roads in our front.
Indeed, it is not probable that thus re-enforced we will be attacked at all. If not re-enforced, an attack is highly probable. I would respectfully suggest that the whole East Tennessee border is much exposed and several important gaps wholly undefended, through any one of which it would not be difficult for the enemy to throw a force.
JAMES E. RAINS, Colonel, Commanding Post.

25 FEBRUARY 1862
CSA Gen. E. Kirby Smith assigned to command the Department of East Tennessee, headquarters at Knoxville.

21 MARCH 1862 – 23 MARCH 1862
Reconnaissance to and skirmish at Cumberland Gap.
Report of Col. Samuel P. Carter, U. S. Army.
HDQRS. TWELFTH BRIGADE, Camp Cumberland Ford.
CAPT.: Late in the afternoon of the 20th instant I was informed by a messenger from Claiborne County, East Tennessee, that four rebel regiments, with six pieces of artillery, under command of Gen. [E. Kirby] Smith left Cumberland Gap on the 19th instant to attack the Second East Tennessee Regt., which was then stationed at Woodson’s Gap, some 3 miles from Fincastle, Campbell County, East Tennessee.

On the morning of the 21st we marched toward Cumberland Gap, with the hope of arriving there before the return of the rebel troops. But when we arrived within 2 miles of the Gap I was overtaken by a messenger (who had been sent to Claiborne County) with information that the rebels had made a forced march, and were by that time within their encampment. As my force was much too small to make an attack on their strong entrenchments, protected by heavy redoubts, I determined to remain in front of their works for a day or two, and make as complete an examination of their works as practicable. We advanced on the enemy’s right and drove in their pickets; moved close to their right line of defense, and bivouacked for the night.

On the morning of the 22nd threw out skirmishers and drove the enemy from the woods to the abatis, which covers the whole mountainside, inside the line of fallen timber. The rebel sharpshooters were well protected by rifle pits. … The rebels opened on our skirmishers with shrapnel from two 12-pounders, but without doing any damage. I moved the two Parrott guns and their regiments to a ridge in the front of the Gap, where the former were placed in position and soon opened on the rebel works, and continued cannonading them until the afternoon.

Our fire was returned warmly from seven different works … They threw 24-pounder solid shot, 12-pounder shell (spherical), 6-pounder solid, and 8-inch shell. … They were several times driven from their guns, but as they had hill and deep trenches close at hand where they seemed to be securely covered, I doubt if they suffered much. … Although the rebel force was more than double ours, all of our efforts to draw them from their works were unsuccessful.

This command bivouacked again just in front of the Gap, and as I had completed successfully the reconnaissance, I left in the forenoon of yesterday, and arrived in this place last evening. Some of the officers and men had narrow escapes, but not one was injured or lost. …

Although we had snow-storms and sleet during both the nights we bivouacked in the mountains, as well as yesterday, I heard no word of complaint from either officer or man. The ammunition of Parrott guns, both fused and percussion, seemed to be defective, as very many of our shells were not seen to explode. I have ordered it to be carefully examined.

This examination of Cumberland Gap confirms the opinion given in a former letter that the place is very strong if attacked from the north side, and can only be carried by a large force with a heavy loss of life, but it can be readily reduced by having a good force attack simultaneously on the south side, or, better still, by an investment, which would soon starve them out. …
Respectfully, &c., S. P. CARTER,
Acting Brig.-Gen., Twelfth Brigade.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 42-45.

22 MARCH 1862
Report of Col. James E. Rains, C. S. Army.
HDQRS., Cumberland Gap, March 22, 1862.
SIR: On yesterday evening, about dark, a party of infantry scouts which I sent out drove in the enemy’s pickets 3 miles out on Harlan road. At daylight skirmishing parties of the enemy opened fire upon our right from the adjacent hills. The firing is now going on and the Minie balls are falling within our works. I have seen no artillery. The snow is falling thickly and the morning is dark. Our men are in the trenches. The fire is a very thin one, and we have not returned it. One man is wounded.
JAMES E. RAINS, Col., Cmdg. Post.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 42-45.

28 MARCH 1862
USA General George W. Morgan is assigned to command of Seventh Division, Army of the Ohio, and is ordered to operate against Cumberland Gap. By April 1862, Morgan is moving against the Gap with the remaining three brigades of his division.

30 MARCH 1862
Knoxville, Tenn., March 30, 1862.
GENERAL: Colonel J. E. Rains, commanding the post at Cumberland Gap, reports that on the evening of the 21st instant the enemy drove in the pickets and on the morning following appeared in his front. Having succeeded in placing two pieces of artillery in position on a neighboring ridge, they opened fire, which was kept up during the day (the 22nd) with considerable vigor, as well as from small-arms at long range, but with little effect. The loss of the enemy is not known, but during the night they withdrew, apparently in great consternation. A body of cavalry to protect their rear were the only troops of the Federal forces seen the next morning, and which it was impossible to cut off.
Information which had reached the enemy of an expedition toward Jacksborough led them to believe that the garrison had been weakened to a great extent, and induced this demonstration. After feeling and ascertaining that it was in force, they retired. Their force was no other than Carter’s brigade, estimated at about 4,000 to 6,000.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH, Major-General, Commanding.

USA Gen. Samuel P. Carter

11 APRIL 1862
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
ON the 11th of April 1862, with the Seventh Division of the Army of the Ohio under my command, I arrived at Cumberland Ford with orders from General Buell to take Cumberland Gap, fourteen miles to the southward, and occupy East Tennessee, if possible; if not, then to prevent the Confederates from advancing from that direction. … The division under my command consisted of four brigades, commanded by Genls. Samuel P. Carter and James G. Spears, Colonel John F. De Courcy, 16th Ohio regiment, and Colonel John Coburn, 33rd Indiana regiment.
During the preceding winter [1861—1862], Carter had occupied a position near the ford and threatening the Gap. The condition of Carter’s brigade was deplorable. The winter’s storms … had practically cut him off from his base of supplies, and … his troops were half-famished and were suffering from scurvy. Of the 900 men of the 49th Indiana regiment, only 200 were fit for duty.
Reconnaissances at once satisfied me that the … Gap could not be taken by a direct attack, nor without immense loss. I determined to try to force the enemy to abandon his stronghold by strategy.
The position of the Confederate commander in East Tennessee, Major-General E. Kirby Smith, was a difficult one. A large majority of the people of East Tennessee were devoted to the Union, and the war there had become a vendetta. The Union men regarded the Confederates as criminals and were in turn denounced by the Confederates as insurgents. Kirby Smith recommended the arrest and incarceration in Southern prisons of leading citizens … as a means of converting the majority to the Southern cause.
On our side, acts not less vigorous were resorted to. A few days after our occupation of Cumberland Gap, June 18th, General Spears, without authority, sent out in the night, captured and wanted to hang a number of Confederate citizens, whose offense was that they had arrested T. A. R. Nelson, while on his way to take his seat in the United States Congress, and had sent him to Richmond. Their lives were saved by my interposition, and they were sent as prisoners to Indianapolis.
For a distance of eighteen miles north of Big Creek Gap, a pass south-west of Cumberland Gap, the Confederates had heavily blockaded the narrow and abrupt defiles [passes] along that route. The work of clearing the blockades was thoroughly done. But while Spears was thus engaged Kirby Smith advanced with a large force of infantry through a bridle-path called Woodson’s Gap, to cut him off.
The attempt might not have succeeded but for the heroic act of Mrs. Edwards, a noble woman, whose heart was wholly in the Union cause, although she had a son in each of the opposing armies. Well mounted, she passed the mountains by another path, and, by incredible efforts, reached my headquarters in time to enable me to send couriers at full speed with orders for Spears to fall back toward Barboursville [KY], until his scouts should report that Smith had recrossed the mountains.
In order to succeed in the task committed to me it was necessary to compel Kirby Smith, who was at this time concentrating his whole army in my immediate front, to divide his forces. To this end I urged General [Don Carlos] Buell to direct General O. M. Mitchel to threaten Chattanooga and thus draw the main force of the Confederates in that direction.
About four miles south of Cumberland Ford is a narrow defile [pass] formed by an abrupt mountain on one side, and the Cumberland River on the other, through which passes the State Road to Cumberland Gap, and on the edge of the defile was an abandoned cabin, known as “The Moss House” … at the junction of the State Road and a pathway leading to Lambdin’s [?] on the main road to Big Creek Gap.
On the morning of May 22nd I sent forward the brigade of De Courcy, with a battery, with orders to occupy the defile, and, as a stratagem intended to puzzle Smith, to construct a fort at the junction of the pathway and road. I threw forward a strong party of pioneers to widen the path leading to Lambdin’s, so as to enable my artillery and train to move forward.
The mountain was steep and rugged, and skill and toil were necessary to the accomplishment of the work. Twenty-two guns—two of them 30-pounder and two 20-pounder Parrott’s—had to be dragged over the Pine and Cumberland mountains, at times by means of block and tackle, at others by putting in as many horses as could be used, and again by men—200 at a single piece—hauling with drag-ropes.
On the 6th and 7th of June Buell caused diversions to be made by an advance of part of Mitchel’s command to the river opposite Chattanooga, and Smith, with two brigades, hastened to its rescue. The brigade of De Courcy had gone forward; Baird occupied the defile at the Moss House, and Carter was assigned to hold the defile till the last moment, and then bring up the rear of the column.
On the 9th of June General Buell telegraphed me from Booneville, Mississippi: “The force now in Tennessee is so small that no offensive operation against East Tennessee can be attempted, and you must therefore depend mainly on your own resources.”
And on the 10th: “Considering your force and that opposed to you, it will probably not be safe for you to undertake any offensive operations. Other operations will soon have an influence on your designs, and it is better for you to run no risk at present.”
It was, however, next to impossible to change my plans at this moment, and move back on a road such as described. We therefore continued to toil forward over the almost impassable mountains.
Thinking that the series of feints against Chattanooga that were being made at my request indicated an advance in force. Kirby Smith now concentrated for defense at that point, after evacuating Cumberland Gap and removing the stores.
This was just what I wanted. On the evening of the 17th of June, General Carter L. Stevenson of the Confederate forces sent Colonel J. E. Rains to cover the evacuation of Cumberland Gap, which had been commenced on the afternoon of that day; Rains withdrew in the night and marched toward Morristown.
Unaware of that fact, at 1 o’clock on the morning of June 18th we advanced in two parallel columns, of two brigades each, to attack the enemy; but while the troops were at breakfast, I learned from a Union man who had come along the valley road that Rains had withdrawn and that the gap was being evacuated.
The advance was at once sounded, and four hours after the evacuation by the Confederates the flag of the Union floated from the loftiest pinnacle of the Cumberland Range. The enemy had carried away his field-guns, but had left seven of his heavy cannon in position, dismantling the rest.
At the request of Carter, his brigade was sent forward in pursuit of the enemy as far as Tazewell, but the enemy had fallen back south-eastward to the Clinch Mountains. Cumberland Gap was ours without the loss of a single life. Secretary Stanton telegraphed the thanks of the President, and General Buell published a general order in honor of this achievement of the Seventh Division.
Lieutenant (now Colonel) William P. Craighill, of the Corps of Engineers, a soldier of distinguished merit and ability, was sent by Secretary Stanton to strengthen the fortifications at the Gap, and he soon rendered them impregnable against attack.
My hope and ambition now was to advance against Knoxville and arouse the Union men of East Tennessee to arms. I urgently asked for two additional brigades of infantry, a battery, and two regiments of cavalry, and, thus reinforced, pledged myself to sweep East Tennessee of the Confederates.
My guns were increased from 22 to 28, and a battery of East Tennessee artillery was organized, commanded by Lieutenant Daniel Webster, of Forster’s 1st Wisconsin battery.
Four thousand stand of arms, destined for East Tennessee, but left at Nicholasville and Crab Orchard during the winter on account of the impassable state of the roads, were now sent forward to Cumberland Gap with a large supply of ammunition, and magazines and an arsenal were got ready for them.
A vast store-house, capable of containing supplies for 20,000 men for 6 months, was also built by Captain W. F. Patterson. The nerves and muscles of every man were stretched to the utmost tension, and the Gap became a vast workshop. Captain S. B. Brown, assistant quartermaster and acting commissary of subsistence, a man of fine intelligence and great energy, put on the road in small trains over four hundred wagons, and by this means the various munitions of war were dragged from the bluegrass region through the wilderness to Cumberland Gap.
*The Confederate forces covering the mountain and river passes north of Knoxville at this time were under General C. L. Stevenson, First Division, Department of East Tennessee. – EDITORS.
Colonel De Courcy and Captain Joseph Edgar … were detailed as instructors of tactics for the officers of the new regiments of East Tennessee troops, who were brave, ambitions men and anxious to learn. Forage was collected with difficulty by armed parties.
About the middle of August Stevenson went into position in my immediate front.
On the morning of the 17th I received intelligence … that Stevenson would attempt to carry the Gap that night.
At 2:30 A. M. on the 18th reveille was sounded, and the lines were manned, but the enemy did not attack. It was evident that he intended a siege.


26 APRIL 1862
E. Kirby Smith’s situation report for East Tennessee
Maj. T. A. WASHINGTON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., C. S. Army
MAJ.: … The line of the Cumberland is best defended by a force mobilized at some central point. The enemy with superior forces threatening Chattanooga and Cumberland Gap from without and a disloyal people within requiring large detachments to guard the line of the railroad, leaves a very inadequate command for defending the department. …
My reports from Cumberland Gap, and through other sources, indicate a large force on the Cumberland River, opposite the Gap. Their number is greatly exaggerated; but have a formidable column has been collected and that a forward movement may soon be expected from Kentucky is undoubted.
The force originally under Gen. [S.P.] Carter has been re-enforced by three regiments and a battery of artillery from Louisville, Ky. At least 7,000 Unionists from East Tennessee have joined his command within the last three weeks, and the Federal troops which were operating against Pound Gap are reported to have been ordered to the same point.
By information received from Lexington, Ky., a large amount of transportation destined for Cumberland Gap had arrived there on the 11th instant, and the belief was prevalent among our friends that East Tennessee would be invaded from that point by a large force. Re-enforcements should be sent to the department and arms for the unarmed regiments forwarded without delay. …
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. II, pp. 453-454.

29 APRIL 1862
Repulse of Federals at Cumberland Gap
Reports of Maj.-Gen. E. Kirby Smith, C. S. Army, including orders for movement of troops.
Knoxville, Tenn., April 30, 1862.
The enemy attacked Cumberland Gap yesterday in force. I go to-day to re-enforce Gen. [Carter] Stevenson with all my available troops. Yesterday the enemy attacked Gen. Leadbetter’s command at Bridgeport. It was necessary to retreat, and the bridge there was burned by Gen. Leadbetter.
E. KIRBY SMITH, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

30 APRIL 1862
Gen. S. COOPER, Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Richmond, Va.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., April 30, 1862.
GEN.: The enemy has attacked at Cumberland Gap. Move with all your disposable force toward Jacksborough. I will overtake you to-night or tomorrow morning. You will withdraw all the cavalry, except one company at Clinton and Cobb’s Ferry, respectively. Those remaining will be directed to keep up communication with this point, and also to communicate to you across the country any important intelligence. You will take with you, if practicable, six- or seven-days’ rations, but be careful to have the wagons in condition to travel lightly. The troops should be without impediments and in fighting order. If the steamboat is at Clinton, you will keep it there.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

3 MAY 1862
HDQRS., Fincastle, Tenn.
MAJ.: Since their repulse at Cumberland Gap, on the 29th ultimo, the enemy have made no demonstration at that point. My intelligence is that they are removing the obstructions in the Big Creek Gap road west of Fincastle. With my effective force here (1,500) I shall operate through the mountain on their rear, which is beyond support from the main body at Cumberland Ford.
Small as my command at this point is, it is all the disposable force in the department, and was collected from every direction … The Georgia regiments ordered to this department … have since been so reduced by measles, mumps, and typhoid fever that they do not average an effective strength of 300. … The troops lately raised in Tennessee are in the same condition. … Whilst the people of East Tennessee believe my force to be large and effective, to the department alone have I exposed its weakness and inefficiency.
I shall resist the enemy’s entrance into East Tennessee with all the means at my disposal, but with the people in my midst enlisted against me, and with a force of at least four to one, more efficient and better equipped, it will be alone assistance from on High that enables us to maintain possession of the department. …
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg. OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. 1, pp. 75-77.

26 MAY 1862
Operations about Cumberland Gap.
Part of the March 28-June 18, 1862 Cumberland Gap Campaign.
Report of Brig. Gen. James G. Spears, U. S. Army,
Camp Pine Knot, May 26, 1862.
… Reliable information shows the enemy’s strength now on Big Creek Gap to be 8,000 strong, with at least four pieces of artillery, and they positively declare their intention to invade Kentucky at this point. They are greatly exasperated; our pickets having killed one of theirs on yesterday. They are said to have 1,500 cavalry coming from toward Knoxville and down from Cumberland Gap.
I have waited patiently here a good while, with an enemy threatening me in front of three times at least of those under my command. They have artillery; I have none. I do think the time has come that some action must be taken, and now is the time to move. You have the artillery and men, and at this point there is no mistake. If reliable information can be relied on, they (the enemy) intend to make the fight. I trust something will be done speedily. The enemy is now in the exact position he was when the former contemplated move was put on foot. Why not now advance?
Such move would prevent them from re-enforcing the gap, and we could attack them in detail successfully; after which being done, if deemed advisable, we could move our whole force on Cumberland Gap and fortify out of reach of their cannon, and compel them to fight us from under their cover, or starve them out and compel them to surrender. I have been directed by you to be ready to advance or retreat at a moment’s warning.
I am sorry to have to say it is an impossibility to comply with the instructions, as we have to subsist and forage ourselves. The transportation is very weak indeed. Much of our forage and subsistence we have to haul twenty miles, and the transportation is frequently gone for two days at a time on foraging and subsistence purposes, so that often if called on to advance or retreat we would have no means of transportation, and the result would be our ammunition, tents, and camp equipage and all would be left, and perhaps lost and fall into the hands of the enemy.
I earnestly call your attention to my condition in this respect that such action may be taken as will prevent any great injury resulting on any move that may be made under instructions yet in force relative to my command.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES G. SPEARS, Brig.-Gen. OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 14-15.

USA Gen. James Spears

JUNE 1862
The Confederate commander of the Department of East Tennessee at Knoxville, Gen. E. Kirby Smith, faces a difficult choice when the U.S. Army threatens both ends of his department—Chattanooga and Cumberland Gap. He chooses Chattanooga and rushes all available troops to Chattanooga to protect his Georgia supply lines. Confederate units hurry south, burning bridges over the Clinch River as they march to the railroad depot at Morristown to catch a ride to Chattanooga.

10 JUNE 1862 – 15 JUNE 1862
Operations in East Tennessee
Report of Brig. Gen. James G. Spears, U. S. Army.
ARMY OF THE OHIO, Cumberland Gap.
CAPT.: In obedience to instructions of June 10, 1862, I proceeded with my command … by way of Big Creek Gap, in order to join Brig. Gen. [George] Morgan at Speedwell. The advance of my command, after having opened and removed a heavy blockade through Pine and Cumberland Mountains, entered the Gap on the evening of the 11th, at which point my pickets were fired on by the pickets of the enemy, which resulted in a pretty heavy skirmish. As we advanced through the Gap the enemy’s pickets, lying in ambush, contested our advance, and fired upon us from rocks and other places of concealment. … we advanced through the Gap, and it being dusk, my men lay upon their arms and rested until next morning.
On the next morning the opening of the blockade was resumed, and the work continued until 12 o’clock that day, during which time the enemy’s cavalry pickets and my advance pickets kept up a heavy skirmish … the whole command and transportation were ordered to renew the march to join Gen. Morgan at Speedwell.
After having passed through the Gap and turned up the valley the advance train was ordered to halt and the rear ordered to close up. While said order was being executed the advance of the trains was charged upon by a considerable force of the enemy’s cavalry, but they were gallantly repulsed … and made to retreat in confusion.
On the morning of the 15th my pickets were attacked, but they were unable to draw the enemy after them. … I ordered Col. Houk, Col. Cooper, and Col. Shelley to proceed into the valley and advance across the same and attack the enemy on the ridge, at which place they seemed to be assembled in force.
They did so, and succeeded in routing them, driving them across Clinch River and alarming them so much they filled boats with rails, set them on fire, and turned them loose down the river, and retreated toward Knoxville. … in the evening, on our return to the valley, I received a dispatch informing me … that I was ordered to join Gen. Morgan at Speedwell at the earliest practicable moment, in order that our forces on this side might be concentrated for the purpose of attacking Cumberland Gap. It then being dark, or about it, I threw out picket-guards and remained at the Gap during that night.
On the following morning, having been joined by the Twenty-fourth Brigade, commanded by Gen. [S. P.] Carter, in obedience to said order, at 4 o’clock I took up the line of march, and on same evening arrived at Rogers’ Gap. …
As we passed along we were frequently greeted by groups of citizens along the road, both ladies and gentleman, who had heretofore acted with the secession party, who expressed their great joy and satisfaction on the arrival of our army, and who stated that they had been deceived, but that they were glad our army had come to relieve them from the oppression and thralldom which had borne them down, and invited the officers to visit their houses and families and partake of such refreshments as they had, which … was generously given and thankfully received.
… on the 15th, after resting one day … I, with my command, together with commands of Gen.’s De Courcy, Baird, and Carter, took up the line of march at 1 o’clock for the purpose of attacking the enemy … The place assigned me in the order of march was forty-five minutes in rear of Gen. Carter’s brigade… But before arriving at said place it was ascertained that the enemy had abandoned it under great confusion, and made their way, some said, toward Cumberland Gap, some toward Knoxville, and others toward Morristown.
After resting a while … we were ordered to take up the line of march toward Cumberland Gap, in order to attack the enemy there, but before arriving at that point it was ascertained that the enemy had abandoned it and fled toward the railroad in utter confusion …
Gen. De Courcy having first arrived with his brigade on that evening, after having marched some twenty miles, proceeded to the top of the mountain, raised the glorious old flag of our country, and fired a salute from Capt. Foster’s battery in honor of the brilliant success achieved by the valor, energy, and patriotism of our officers and soldiers. … The officers and men and all under my command with promptness, energy, and zeal executed at all times every order and command given to them by me, and my warmest thanks are accorded to them, one and all.
I am, captain, very respectfully,
your obedient servant,
JAMES G. SPEARS, Brig. Gen., Comdg.
Twenty-fifth Brigade, Army of the Ohio.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. I, pp. 69-72.


13 JUNE 1862
Bowman, East Tennessee.
Colonel J. B. FRY:
On yesterday I received your telegram giving me authority to operate offensively … At the same moment I received a dispatch from Colonel De Courcy, still at Rogers’ Gap, saying that the enemy evacuated Cumberland Gap … Soon after Mr. Kellinn, who resides within 8 miles of Cumberland Gap, arrived with information that the huts were burned and the tents taken down on the Kentucky front of the Gap.
I have just received a dispatch from Colonel De Courcy saying that the enemy was reported to be in position at Cedar Creek, near Fincastle. General Carter is now en route to Big Creek Gap, and I feel it to be my duty to concentrate my division at the earliest moment practicable. The enemy may not have evacuated Cumberland Gap, but simply resorted to a ruse. …

18 JUNE 1862 – 17 SEPTEMBER 1862
Second Occupation of Cumberland Gap
18 JUNE 1862
Occupation of Cumberland Gap by Union forces.
Excerpt from the Report of Gen. George W. Morgan relative to the Federal occupation of Cumberland Gap.
Well, the Gap is ours, and without the loss of a single life. I have since carefully examined the works, and I believe that the place could have been taken in a ten days’ struggle from the front, but to have done so I should have left the bones of two-thirds of my gallant comrades to bleach upon the mountain-side, and, after all, this fastness, all stained with heroic blood, would only have been what it now is, a fortress of the Union, from whose highest peak floats the Stars and Stripes. The result secured by strategy is less brilliant than a victory obtained amid the storm and hurricane of battle, but humanity has gained all that glory has lost, and I am satisfied.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. p. 61.

18 JUNE 1862
Excerpt from the Report of John F. De Courcy
Col., Cmdg. Twenty-sixth Brigade relative to the occupation of Cumberland Gap, June 18, 1862
On the 18th instant I resumed the march … The enemy being supposed to have taken up a strong position at Thomas’ farm, and my orders being to attack him before Gen. Carter, who was marching on a parallel but longer line than the one I was operating on, could debouch, I moved with the amount of celerity which I deemed would enable me to attain the object in view.
I reached the point indicated, but found the enemy had retreated early in the morning. After reposing the troops I moved on slowly, to enable the cavalry advance guard to examine the woods, which were constantly presenting themselves on my flanks, and from under whose cover I had been informed I might at any moment except an attack from the enemy posted in ambush.
Finally, after a march of nearly 20 miles, I reached Cumberland Gap, which I found the enemy had evacuated during the previous night, its rear guard having left only three hours before the arrival of my advance guard. Before sunset the flags of the Twenty-sixth Brigade flaunted over the fortifications, and Foster’s battery, firing a salute of thirty-four guns, told in loud tones to the persecuted people of East Tennessee that they were free, for once more the Stars and Stripes were near to protect and encourage them in their loyalty. …
In concluding this report it becomes my most pleasing duty to request you to mention to the general commanding that the many difficulties and fatigues of this march were met, endured, and overcome by the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates under my command with a cheerful spirit and an energy of action which speaks well for their patriotism and soldier-like qualities. The officers of my personal staff displayed great activity, perseverance, and intelligence in seeing my orders carried out …
John F. De Courcy, Col., Cmdg. Twenty-sixth Brigade.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 10, pt. pp. 72-74.

17-18 JUNE 1862

Brig. Gen. George W. Morgan.

Twenty-fourth Brigade, Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Carter:
49th Ind., Lieut.-Col. James Keigwin;
3rd Ky., Col. T. T. Garrard;
1st Tenn., Col. Robert K. Byrd;
2nd Tenn., Col. James P. T. Carter.

Twenty-fifth Brigade, Brig.-Gen. James G. Spears;
3rd Tenn., Col. Leonidas C. Houk;
4th Tenn., Col. Robert Johnson;
5th Tenn., Col. James T. Shelley;
6th Tenn., Col. Joseph A Cooper.

Twenty-sixth Brigade, Col. John F. De Courcy:
22nd Ky., Col. Daniel W. Lindsey;
16th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. George W. Bailey;
42nd Ohio, Col. Lionel A. Sheldon.

Twenty-seventh Brigade, Brig. Gen. Absalom Baird:
33rd Ind., Col. John Coburn;
14th Ky., Col. John C. Cochran;
19th Ky., Col. William J. Landram.

Artillery, Capt. Jacob T. Foster:
7th Mich., Capt. Charles H. Lanphere;
9th Ohio, Lieut. Leonard P. Barrows;
1st Wis., Lieut. John D. Anderson;
Siege Battery, Lieut. Daniel Webster. Cavalry
Ky. Battalion, Lieut.-Col. Reuben Munday. Ky.
Engineers, Capt. William F. Patterson.

Twenty-seventh Brigade at Cumberland Gap

Their composition is not stated in the “Official Records.”
During the month of July.
Brig. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson, First Division, Department of East Tennessee, was in position confronting Morgan at Cumberland Gap.
The strength of this division was stated by General Kirby Smith on the 24th of the month to be 9000 effectives, “well organized and mobilized, and in good condition for active service.”
The organization on the 3rd of July was as follows:
Second Brigade, Col. James E. Rains:
 4th Tenn., Col. J. A. McMurry;
11th Tenn., Col. J. E. Rains;
42nd Ga., Col. R. J. Henderson;
3rd Ga. Battalion, Lieut.-Col. M. A. Stovall;
29th N. C., Col. R. B. Vance;
Ga. Battery, Capt. J. G. Yeiser.

Third Brigade, Brig. Gen. S. M. Barton;
30th Ala., Col. C. M. Shelley;
31st Ala., Col. D. R. Hundley;
40th Ga., Col. A. Johnson;
52nd Ga., Col. W. Boyd;
9th Ga. Battalion, Maj. J. T. Smith;
Va. Battery, Capt. Joseph W. Anderson.

Fourth Brigade, Col. A. W. Reynolds:
20th Ala., Col. I. W. Garrott;
36th Ga., Col. J. A. Glenn;
39th Ga., Col. J. T. McConnell;
43rd Ga., Col. S. Harris;
39th N. C., Col. D. Coleman;
3rd Md. Battery, Capt. H. B. Latrobe.

Fifth Brigade, Col. T. H. Taylor:
23rd Ala., Col. F. K. Beck;
46th Ala., Col. M. L. Woods;
3rd Tenn., Col. J. C. Vaughn;
31st Tenn., Col. W. M. Bradford;
59th Tenn., Col. J. B. Cooke;
Tenn. (Rhett) Battery, Capt. W. H. Burroughs.


19 JUNE 1862
The enemy evacuated this American Gibraltar …
Cumberland Gap, June 19, 1862.
The enemy evacuated this American Gibraltar this morning at 10 o’clock, and De Courcy’s brigade took possession at 3 this afternoon. The enemy destroyed a considerable amount of his stores, and precipitated several cannon over the cliffs, spiking others, and carried a few away. I believe, however, that seven have been found in position. The tents were left standing, but cut into slits. He had not time to destroy or take a portion of his stores, and they have been taken possession of by the proper officers.
The Stars and Stripes were raised by De Courcy, and a national salute was fired in honor of the capture of this stronghold of treason. Each brigade, in the order of its arrival, will on successive days plant its flag at sunset upon the pinnacle of the mountain, accompanied by a national salute.
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

20 JUNE 1862
Cumberland Gap.
It has been with mortification and regret that the general commanding has learned that outrages have been committed upon private property of citizens, some of whom are loyal to the Union, by a few bad men, who have disgraced their uniforms by their unsoldier-like conduct.
Private citizens and private property must be respected, and the honor of our flag and of the brave men who are ready to die beneath its folds shall not be sullied by a handful of desperadoes who have crept into the ranks of the army, and if any such act is committed after this order has become promulgated and known the perpetrator of the outrage shall suffer the penalty of death, as prescribed by the Rules and Articles of War.
It is directed that this order be at once published at the head of every company in the command and that commanding officers will look to its enforcement.
By command of General Morgan:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

20 JUNE 1862
Confederate depredations in Cumberland Gap environs.
Col. FRY, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:
I have great need of two regiments of cavalry, and hope that they will be sent me immediately. The rebel cavalry are committing atrocious outrages, and I have not the means to protect the people. With one regiment much could be done, and with two I could give immediate security to the people of this portion of the State.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 43.

21 JUNE 1862
President Lincoln notified about the Confederate evacuation of Cumberland Gap.
The enemy has evacuated Cumberland Gap. Must very soon leave all East Tennessee.
H. W. HALLECK, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 44.

22 JUNE 1862
Telegram from the Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, June 22, 1862.
Brigadier-General MORGAN:
This Department has been highly gratified with your successful occupation of Cumberland Gap, and commends the gallant conduct and labors of your officers and troops, to whom you will express the thanks of the President and this Department. Cumberland Gap is regarded as a strategic point of great importance, which, unless you have orders from your commanding officer, this Department will consider you well employed in holding and strengthening that position so that the enemy can by no chance recover his position.
I have been striving ever since receiving the intelligence of your success to aid and send you a skillful officer of the Engineer Department to place and construct the necessary works. That has delayed my communication to you. The great demand in this quarter has absorbed the whole engineer force, but tomorrow I hope to send you an officer highly recommended by General Totten for his professional skill. It is out of the power of this Department to supply you at present with any cavalry for offensive operations, and as your force for some time can be advantageously employed defensively in its present position, I trust you will not need it.
With thanks for your diligence and activity,
I remain, yours, truly,
Secretary of War.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, p. 1008.

24 JUNE 1862
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Washington, D. C.
Citizens of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee come in by the dozen to take the oath of allegiance to the United States. A moment ago, 13 Virginians came in, and when I welcomed them back to the old flag every eye was dimmed with tears.
Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding.

25 JUNE 1862
Confederate civilians in Cumberland Gap environs take the oath of allegiance.
Cumberland Gap.
Gen. [DON CARLOS] BUELL, and Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War: Secession citizens of Tennessee continue to come in to take the oath of allegiance and ask the protection of the brave old flag.
Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 66.

31 JULY 1862
CSA Gens. E. Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg develop a plan to drive Union forces out of Tennessee.

2 AUGUST – 4 AUGUST 1862
Operations at Cumberland Gap.
Report of Col. John F. De Courcy, Sixteenth Ohio Infantry, commanding brigade. TAZEWELL, EAST TENN.
CAPTAIN: The foraging has thus far proceeded satisfactorily. Hay, horses, cattle, and sheep were brought in yesterday. No corn has been found as yet. Yesterday [3rd] I made a reconnaissance toward Big Springs. The enemy had there about 100 cavalry, and they held their ground for about an hour and did not leave until I opened fire on them with a 10-pounder.
This day [4th] I proceed with the Sixteenth Regiment and two guns to Little Sycamore … where I shall leave a part of the Forty-second Regiment to protect my line of retreat in case of disaster. From Little Sycamore I shall move toward Big Sycamore, and return to Tazewell from that point …
This expedition is intended to cover a large train which proceeds from here direct to Big Sycamore. I have not sufficient strength to make detachments without at the same time leaving altogether open the position in rear of this town. But by thus calling the enemy’s attention toward Little Sycamore I hope to make them uneasy about their Morristown line of [rail]road.
Two of the enemy’s spies have been arrested whilst in the act of giving their cavalry information of the position of our infantry. It would serve as a good example if these men were punished according to the laws. If an order be sent me to that effect, I will have them publicly shot.
I have the honor to be, yours, respectfully,
Col., Commanding Twenty-sixth Brigade.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 42-43.


2 AUGUST – 6 AUGUST 1862
Operations against and about Cumberland Gap
Report of Brig. Gen. George W. Morgan, U. S. Army.
CUMBERLAND GAP, August 7, 1862.
COL.: To obtain forage and feed and learn the strength of the enemy, De Courcy was ordered to Tazewell on the 2nd instant. He secured 200 wagon loads of forage, all of which safely arrived on the 5th. Some slight picket skirmishing took place, in which we had 2 men wounded, while the enemy had 1 killed and several wounded.
Early in the morning of the 6th instant, not wishing to bring on a general action, I ordered Col. De Courcy to return to this post, but he was attacked at daybreak on that day. Considering enemy’s forces the attack was feeble. Two of his regiments surrounded two companies of the Sixteenth Ohio, detached to protect a section of artillery. The enemy’s movement was well executed …
Although surrounded by a vastly superior force, the two infantry companies … fought heroically, and three-fourths of them succeeded in cutting their way through to their regiments. But we fear that Capt. Edgar, an officer of great merit, was killed and Capt. Taneyhill taken prisoner.
A soldier of the Twenty-second Kentucky was shot through the neck and fell. His gun dropped from his hands; his foe contrived to advance upon him, when the wounded hero grasped his gun, rose to his feet and shot the rebel soldier dead when within five paces of him, when he again fell. …
At 3.30 p. m. a courier arrived from Col. De Courcy and asked for aid. Leaving three regiments to guard the Gap I marched with my remaining force to his assistance, but when within 2 miles of Tazewell I met him on his return. The enemy left the field at 5 o’clock and maintained his position until 7 o’clock p.m. The enemy’s loss is believed to be considerable. I did not pursue, lest with a superior force, he should gain my rear.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, pp. 835-836.

5 AUGUST 1862 – 6 AUGUST 1862*
Foraging, operations against and about Cumberland Gap.
Reconnaissance and skirmishes near Tazewell.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 43-44.

16 AUGUST 1862
Recent operations around Cumberland Gap
We have had the pleasure of an interview with Capt. J. H. Ferry, Quartermaster of General Morgan’s division, who left the Gap at noon on Tuesday last, the twelfth instant, and he gives a full and explicit denial to the rebel reports of our reverses in that vicinity.
Since … the middle of July, there has been no regular engagement near the Gap until last Saturday, when Col. De Courcy went out on a foraging party with his whole brigade, consisting of the Sixteenth and Forth-second Ohio and Twenty-second Kentucky, Col. Lindsey, and the Fourteenth Kentucky, Col. Cochran, of Gen. Baird’s divisions. Col. Cochran was in advance with his regiment, about a mile and a half beyond Tazewell, on picket-duty, when he was attacked by four rebel regiments under Col. Rains, comprising the Eleventh and Forty-second Tennessee, Thirtieth Alabama and Twenty-first Georgia.
Col. Cochran immediately formed his command on each side of the road, each flank supported by a piece of artillery from Foster’s Wisconsin battery … The rebels advanced upon the Fourteenth Kentucky in extended line and their flanking regiments thrown forward, with the evident intention of surrounding and cutting off the whole regiment and artillery.
Col. Cochran, seeing this, retired his regiment in perfect order, as soon as the artillery had placed itself in his rear, and took position where the movement could not be repeated against him. The rebels, then changed their plan of attack, and charged … until when within two hundred and fifty yards, Col. Cochran, who had stood without discharging a gun, poured a terrible fire upon them, which checked their advance and threw them into disorder.
In the mean time, Foster’s entire battery of six guns had been place in position on an eminence in the rear, and opened fire, which turned the rebel disorder into a rout, and no more was seen of them. Rebel officers who came in under a flag of truce, acknowledged a loss of from two hundred to two hundred and fifty, and the Knoxville Register … published the names of one hundred and nine killed. We lost but three killed.
Lieut. Col. Gordon, of the Eleventh rebel Tennessee regiment, was taken prisoner by two men of the Sixteenth Ohio, and though their company was completely surrounded, they undexterously managed to bring him in to Colonel De Courcy.
The rebels offered to exchange all prisoners taken by them for their lieutenant-colonel, but the arrangements had not been completed when Captain Ferry left the Gap. Gen. Morgan issued orders complimenting Cols. Cochran and De Courcy and their men for their bravery, but it is universally conceded that to Col. Cochran belongs all the credit and the splendid repulse of the four rebel regiments.
~ Louisville Journal

The method of determining if a fight was a ‘battle’ or a ‘skirmish,’ an ‘engagement,’ an ‘affair’ or a ‘heavy skirmish’ is very subjective. Thus one man’s ‘skirmish’ could be another man’s ‘battle.’

16 AUGUST – 22 AUGUST 1862
Operations about Cumberland Gap.

16 AUGUST 1862
Confederate Army of Kentucky, under Gen. E. Kirby Smith, crosses the Tennessee Cumberland Mountains into Kentucky.
HUNTSVILLE, ALA., August 16, 1862—10.10 p.m.
Maj.-Gen. HALLECK, Gen.-in-Chief: Kirby Smith is advancing into Kentucky by the gaps west of Cumberland Gap with some 12,000 or 15,000 men, doubtless with the immediate object of getting into Morgan’s rear. Morgan says he can with his present supplies hold his position for five weeks. …
The movements of the enemy and information from various sources leave no room to doubt their intention to make a desperate effort to repossess themselves of this State.
D. C. BUELL, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 344.

16 AUGUST 1862
Morgan to Buell
CUMBERLAND GAP, August 16, 1862—12 m.
Gen. [DON CARLOS] BUELL, Huntsville: I have good reasons to believe that Smith intends to advance through Big Creek and possibly through Rogers Gap … Both gaps are observed. His force will be from five to eight brigades of infantry, with a corresponding force of artillery and cavalry, in all 12,000 or 15,000 men.
I have ordered a small cavalry force to Boston [KY] with directions that upon the first approach of the enemy at Big Creek or Rogers Gap to fall back upon Barboursville [KY] and to destroy all forage and drive before him all cattle along the route. …
I respectfully suggest that I have left one of two plans: to await quietly here until Smith is starved out and forced to fall back or to concentrate eight regiments at London [KY]. … Smith cannot possibly remain three weeks in my rear. I can hold this place five weeks with my present command.
MORGAN, Brig.-Gen. Volunteers, Cmdg.

16 AUGUST 1862
CSA Gen. E. Kirby Smith crosses the Tennessee Cumberland Mountains and invades Kentucky.
As planned, Smith will advance against the Federals at Cumberland Gap. After disposing of this force, Smith is to reunite with [Gen. Braxton] Bragg for the advance into Middle Tennessee …
Unfortunately, Smith has an obsession with Kentucky which will end his agreement to mutually support and cooperate with Bragg. Smith plans to deal with Union Major General George Morgan at Cumberland Gap by striking deep into Kentucky. If he destroys the bridge over the Kentucky River near Lexington, Morgan will be forced to evacuate Cumberland Gap.

16 AUGUST 1862 – 22 AUGUST 1862
Operations about Cumberland Gap Report of Brig. Gen. George W. Morgan,
U. S. Army, commanding Seventh Division, Army of the Ohio.
CUMBERLAND GAP, TENN., August 22, 1862.
GEN.: On the night of the 16th the enemy, said to be 20,000 strong, arrived in our front and drove in our pickets. … During the … [following] morning the enemy’s … artillery opened upon our cavalry. We returned the fire from the pinnacle forts … and compelled the enemy to withdraw his guns. … He now envelops our entire front. … The column which passed Big Creek Gap is said to be 20,000 strong. …
I ordered Col. [Leonidas] Houk to concentrate his regiment and fall back upon Cumberland Gap. It is rumored that Houk was attacked on the 16th instant and his command captured. On the morning of the 16th I sent Capt. Martin via Cumberland Ford to observe Big Creek and Rogers’ Gap. On the 17th instant [at Pine Mountain TN] he [Houk] was attacked by [Henry Marshall] Ashby’s cavalry, 600 strong, and 60 of his men are missing.
This telegram is sent to Gen.’s Halleck and Buell by courier to Lexington.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, p. 860.

Col. Leonidas Campbell Houk, First Tennessee Infantry USA

MINI BIO: Col. Leonidas Campbell Houk
Leonidas C. Houk, congressman and judge, was born near Boyd’s Creek, Sevier County. The death of his father in 1839 left him and his mother impoverished. His formal education consisted of only a few months at a country school; thereafter, he educated himself through diligent reading.
As a youth he earned a living as a cabinetmaker and Methodist preacher while studying law at night. In 1859 he was admitted to the Tennessee bar and opened an office in Clinton.
A Union loyalist at the outbreak of the Civil War and member of the Union convention in East Tennessee in 1861, Houk organized the First Tennessee Infantry USA … He served as a private, lieutenant, and quartermaster; in 1862 he was colonel of the Third Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. Poor health forced him to leave military service in 1863, and he spent the next two years following military activities and writing pro-Union articles for the press.

16 AUGUST 1862
Letter from Confederate soldier John Wesley Pitts to his wife in Alabama.
From Confederate camp at Tazewell TN near Cumberland Gap.
My Darling Vin
As it is thought we will commence an advance movement to-day, I have seated myself at the foot of an old oak tree to write you a few lines. We are now cooking up four days rations to go somewhere. It is thought we will go to the gap and from there to Kentucky as it is reported that the Yanks are evacuating the gap to prevent our troops from flanking them.
The whole of East-Tenn is in commotion preparing for a forward movement into Kentucky. The western army has been swarming into this country for the last 10 days. We have 10 or 12,000 men at this place. It is thought that we will attack the gap in front and Gen [E. Kirby] Smith with 20 or 25,000 will cross the Cumberland Mountains at Big Creek Gap – 20 miles below here and attack them in their rear, while Bragg will advance from Chattanooga and Price from the West.
If their plans can be carried out, we will be in possession of the whole of Tenn and a part or the whole of Kentucky in a short time. If we start on that trip, it may be some time before you will hear from me again. … if we get possession of the gap, it might fall to the lot of our Regiment to stay there and guard it.
The health of my company is improving some. I will start 12 more discharged men home in a few days. It looks like I will have to discharge half of my Company. I will try and send you some money by some of them. Say to old man Wallace that it is impossible to get any flour shipped from this country as Gen. Smith has issued an order preventing the shipment of any flour from the state. I will send his money back by the first one passing.
How does the little President [infant son] behave? Have you named him yet? I guess I will have to send him a Pony so that he can attend to the farm when Pa is absent. Did Gus Caldwell hand you the $40.00 I sent? There has nothing new or interesting occurred since my last. Kiss Lula for me.
My Kindest regards to all.
Write to me often. 
Yours as ever,

18 AUGUST 1862
Initiation of Confederate siege of Cumberland Gap; An entry in the diary of Private William E. Sloan
We are now within three miles of Cumberland Gap. We arrived here yesterday morning [17th] and commenced a siege, and we have the Gap invested from mountain to mountain, our line forming a semi-circle around the gap. The enemy has heavy batteries on the mountain with which they shell us continually, but with very little harm to us. Our line is very scattering, owing to our limited numbers, but things are so arranged that should the enemy attack pickets and skirmishers are well advanced. It is reported that Gen. Kirby Smith (whom we have lost sight of for some time) is advancing through Big Creek Gap, with the rest of our division and such other troops as he can collect together, and that his aim is to attack Cumberland Gap in the rear. If this be true, and they invest the rear properly we will compel the enemy to surrender. The Yankees seem to know nothing about the flank movement, and are turning their fire entirely on us. They are said to be commanded by one Gen. Morgan. We are all in fine spirits.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.
~ William E. Sloan’s diary of the Great War for Southern Independence
An account of the daily occurrences of Company C, Third Tennessee Volunteer Infantry from the beginning of the war to August 19, 1862, after [that] of Company D, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry from that date to the end of the war, and of Company D, Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, from that date to the end of the War. Cleveland, Tenn.: E. Wiefering, 1996.

21 AUGUST 1862
Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of the Mississippi crosses the Tennessee River in preparation for its movement north to Kentucky.

22 AUGUST 1862
Confederate soldier William E. Sloan keeps a diary while in camp at Cumberland Gap.
A skirmish at Cumberland Gap
I have been with a detail on picket duty all night. We were fired on to-day by two regiments of Yankee infantry and driven in. One of our men was killed and one wounded. We fell back in good order to our base and formed line of battle, but the enemy did not advance. They brought with them a battery with which they gave us a few charges of grape, also the heavy batteries on the mountain opened on us with shell, but without damage. They soon retired, and we are now occupying our former picket ground.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.

24 AUGUST 1862
Truce and defection at Cumberland Gap
We are still holding our position. Our boys made a truce with the Yankee pickets to-day, and they met and had a conversation between the lines. The result was that one of the Yankees deserted and came over to us.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.

25 AUGUST 1862
One Confederate soldier’s prognosis on the siege of Cumberland Gap.
The siege of Cumberland Gap is likely to last much longer than we at first expected. The prisoners that we have captured report that they have several months supply of provisions on hand. We learn that Gen. E. Kirby Smith, who was thought to be in [the] rear of the enemy at Cumberland Ford, has left and gone on further into Kentucky, and that the Yankees in the Gap have received large trains of supplies. This is the report, but whether true or not we do not know. A long train of wagons was seen coming down the mountain this evening, and we suppose they are coming out after forage.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.

25 AUGUST 1862
Activities during the Confederate siege of Cumberland Gap
The enemy approached us this morning. They had two regiments of infantry and some artillery with their wagon train. They did not drive our pickets in, but proceeded to load their wagons with oats and green corn which grew just on their picket line, and the infantry and artillery stood in line of battle to protect the men who gathered the corn.
They then planted their battery a little nearer to us and shelled our pickets with great fury for a short time, but as we were under cover of thick woods they did not know where to direct their fire, and therefore did us no harm. They were in good range for sharp-shooters, had our men been provided with suitable guns, but I had the only long-range gun in the company, it being a Sharpe rifle.
I had the pleasure of annoying their gunners very much with my rifle, as I had a splendid position behind a great oak tree, and felt perfectly safe from the shells; in fact I think that I would have been safe without the tree, for the reason that while many shots were evidently aimed at it, no one struck it, but I certainly would not have felt safe without that great friendly tree standing in front of me.
The enemy soon retired. Our men are mostly armed with shot-guns and other muzzle loading arms of old pattern, some of them being flint-locks; all of which are good enough at close range, but are very unsatisfactory in the present service. We also carry sabres, but they are only good in a cavalry charge. A few of us have revolvers.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.

25 AUGUST 1862
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NO. 2, Chattanooga, Tenn.
The troops of this command will be in readiness to move at an hour’s notice. Ample time for the preparation having been allowed and everything necessary having been promptly supplied, the general trusts the movement will be made with that alacrity and regularity which can alone inspire confidence. The enemy is before us, devastating our fair country, imprisoning our old and venerated men, even the ministers of God, insulting our women, and desecrating our altars. It is our proud lot to be assigned the duty of punishing and driving these deluded men, led by desperate adventurers and goaded on by Abolition demagogues and demons. Let us but deserve success and an offended Deity will certainly secure it. Should we be opposed, we must fight at any odds and conquer at any sacrifice. Should the foe retire, we must follow him rapidly to his town territory and make him taste the bitters of invasion. Soldiers! The enemy are before you and your banners are free. It is for you to decide whether our brothers and sisters of Tennessee and Kentucky shall remain bondmen and bondwomen of the Abolition tyrant or be restored to the freedom inherited from our fathers.
By command of Gen. Bragg
Humphreys Marshall marching from Pound Gap by way of Mount Sterling to join Kirby Smith. His force estimated at from 8,000 to 15,000. About 300 rebel troops at Mount Sterling and 100 at Winchester. Kirby Smith’s forces, which were at Lexington and Frankfort, have moved on toward Cynthiana and Covington. Rumored that a portion of his forces are moving toward Louisville. Col. De Courcy, of Gen. Morgan’s command, is at Manchester with his brigade, and is collecting supplies for the army at Cumberland Gap. Gen. Morgan’s entire force numbers about 7,000 effective men. He has thirty pieces of cannon, with a moderate supply of ammunition for them; has plenty of ammunition for small-arms. Provisions will hold out eighty days yet.
Gen. Bragg crossed the Tennessee River on the 25th of August. Gen. Stevenson has from 10,000 to 15,000 men immediately in front of Cumberland Gap. Kirby Smith’s force altogether in Kentucky number from 30,000 to 40,000. Recruits for the rebel army are being raised very rapidly in Kentucky.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, pp. 957-959.

27 AUGUST 1862
Skirmish near Cumberland Gap
Report of Brig. Gen. George W. Morgan, U. S. Army.
CUMBERLAND GAP, August 29, 1862.
GEN.: Nothing of interest on the 28th instant. On the 27th a small detachment from the First and Second Tennessee, commanded by Capt.’s Meyers and Robbins, attacked and surprised a party of the enemy’s cavalry, commanded by Acting Brig.-Gen. Allston, of South Carolina. Allston, his colors, and 3 privates were captured. The enemy left 4 dead men upon the field and had a considerable number wounded. The affair was a complete surprise, and we did not sustain any loss.
Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, p. 892.

28 AUGUST 1862
Letter from John Wesley Pitts to his wife ‘Darling Vin’ 
Camp Near Cumberland Gap 
My Darling Vin
I wrote you day before yesterday, but as Lt Wilder leaves this morning for home, I thought I would drop you a few lines. Lt Wilder has resigned on account of sickness. I am very fearful I will have to do the same as I am reduced to the necessity of wearing a truss and I am afraid if I stay here, I will injure myself for life.
Many a man has gone home from here not half as bad off as I am, but the idea of going home and leaving my company has something about it I don’t like. Besides my health is so good, or rather I look so healthy, if I was to come home the people would say there was nothing the matter with me. So I shall stay as long as I am able to walk.
We are still here in front of the Gap and as I write I can hear the boom of the enemy’s cannon throwing shell at our forces on the other side of the mountain. They have not shelled us but very little today. Their attention seems to be takin up on the other side. I am in hopes they will do something soon as I am getting very tired of laying here in the woods. We may have to stay here in our present position for a month yet.
We cannot find out how much provisions the enemy have left and of course they will not surrender until that is exhausted. They have been coming down after corn, but I understand from a deserter that they have a good deal to go on yet and corn was to make it hold out as long as possible – deserters are coming in all the time. All of the boys that are here are well. Though I have only 18. No other news of interest.
Kiss the babies good bye. 

28 AUGUST 1862
A Confederate cavalryman’s observations on the fortifications at Cumberland Gap.
Cumberland Gap is a very strong hold, being a natural fortification of itself, and the big forts with heavy siege guns mounted in them, and other formidable earth-works makes the place almost impregnable. Our force is about equal in numbers with that of the enemy, with the difference that they have more field artillery than we have, to say nothing of the heavy fort guns that they are using against us; therefore the idea of storming the gap has not been suggested, and would be perfectly insane.
Those forts were built by the Confederates, and they are equally effective on either side of the mountain. We would require a force of 5 to 1 to take the Gap by storm, therefore we must starve them out if we get them. Heavy firing was heard beyond the Gap this morning, but we suppose it was only the Yankees firing of their loaded guns.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.

31 AUGUST 1862
Federal artillery bombardment of C. S. A. camps at Cumberland Gap.
The enemy has been shelling at us continuously all day with their big guns, but they do us no harm. The buzzing of shells has become an old song to us; our boys pay no attention to them. Most of the shells pass over our heads, though some fall short of us. It is worthy of note that there has not been a rifle pit, or any sort of breastworks erected over our entire line since this siege began, though most of our regiments have thick woods to camp in. If our enemies had our position they would have the whole country round about dug up into powerful earth-works.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.


Major General J. P. McCown, C. S. Army assumes command of the Department of East Tennessee.

Knoxville, Tenn., September 3, 1862.
Hon. GEORGE W. RANDOLPH, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: Col. Scott and others in Kentucky have paroled East Tennesseeans in the Federal Army to return to their homes. … Cumberland Gap, on this side, is closely invested, and Gen. Morgan is short of provisions. The north side of the Gap is open, and he can escape in the direction of Manchester or Columbia.
The force at my disposal is only sufficient to invest this side, protect the railroad bridges, and keep the country quiet. Gen. Smith is calling on me for re-enforcements. My position as temporary commander of the department is embarrassing, to say the least. I shall carry out Gen. Smith’s views. The conscript law should be enforced at once. I would prefer having the disaffected element in my front than my rear. I would recommend that [a] warning be given that all those who left would be considered as aliens and their property sequestrated. …
Those who left for the north would only embarrass Gen. Morgan in his critical position. If I had forces sufficient to invest the north of the Gap, I believe that Morgan and his whole force would soon be captured or give battle. A definite policy should be adopted at once, and I ask early instructions. The position and importance of East Tennessee requires prompt action.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. McCOWN, Maj.-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, pp. 794-795.

6 SEPTEMBER 1862 – 10 SEPTEMBER 1862
Expedition from Cumberland Gap to Pine Mountain and skirmishes
Report of Col. Joseph A. Cooper, Sixth Tennessee Infantry.
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIFTH BRIGADE, ARMY OF THE OHIO, Cumberland Gap, September 12, 1862. Brig.-Gen. MORGAN:
DEAR GENERAL: Having received, I herewith transmit to you the report of Col. Cooper of the expedition made in obedience to an order received from your headquarters. It is with no small degree of gratitude and pleasure that I do the same, and take pleasure in stating, in addition to what he reports, that a comment from me upon the facts as stated in his report would nor could not present the gallant commander who planned, and the brave and energetic officers and men who executed, it in any more favorable light before the country than their gallant conduct on the occasion as stated in Col. Cooper’s report. For all which gallantry, patriotism, and energy it is my first duty, as well as my greatest pleasure, to forward, together with this report, to your headquarters for your further consideration, and then to receive from you and the nation such other and further comment as in your judgment said little band of patriots are entitled to. I am, general, your friend and obedient servant, JAMES G. SPEARS, Brig. Gen. Comdg.
Twenty-fifth Brigade, Army of the Ohio.

John Wesley Pitts writes his wife from Cumberland Gap.
Cumberland Gap, 4 o’clock P.M.
My Darling Vin
Since mailing the letter I wrote you this morning our Regiment has received orders to go into camp until tomorrow morning. About dinner time I received yours written at Columbiana on the 13th inst, and I assure its perusal afforded me a great deal of pleasure to know that you were well and everything moving on so smoothly. Separated as we are it is always a great pleasure to hear from you and if I sometimes complain of your not writing as often as I could wish, you must overlook and attribute it to an over anxiety to hear from you & the little ones.
You ask me to come home. I would like very well to do so but for a healthy man like myself to resign and go home it would furnish gossip for years to come, besides my company is so anxious for me to stay that it would look wrong in me to leave them as long as can possibly get along. They say that I will have to give it up and go home but as long as I can without serious injury to myself, they want me to stay.
It makes me proud and mad at the same time to think they should object so strong to my leaving them. If I were a lieutenant or a private, I should not hesitate one minute but apply for a discharge and go home, even if I were forced by the conscript to hire a substitute.
Since I got me a truss I have done pretty well while I was lying around here and not walking much, but as soon as I commenced marching this week, I began to get worse & have [been] getting worse all the time, and yesterday in the march from Baptist Gap 10 miles below this, I gave completely out and had to fall back behind the Regt. If I continue to get worse, I will have to give it up, as I do not care to be left behind the Regt. in such a country as Kentucky.
I am only affected on one side at present but the Dr. says I may get so on the other any day. Dr. Reeves says if I were at home and would take the proper care of myself, I would get over it directly, but that he is afraid I will [not] get over it in the service. I would like exceedingly if some arrangement could be made by which I could get a Company in place of the one at the Bridge, as I would then be stationery – But enough of myself.
I have looking around all day at the sights in this Gap & vicinity and have not yet seen half. If I had time, I could write you ten or fifteen pages. I have stood to-day in three different states at the same time – Kentucky, Tennessee & Virginia. They corner right in the Gap. It is the most magnificent view from the mountain I have ever beheld, but I have not the space to go into detail.
Such destruction of property I never expected to see as we witnessed here – arms, ammunition, Camp & garrison equipage or a large amount of coffee and salt were burnt. Our troops saved a good deal but an immense amount was lost. They destroyed all their tents, baggage, tools, ammunition & everything they had brought here for the purpose of arming the East Tennessee Tory’s [Unionists]. We captured 430 of them before they could get away. They all appear very anxious to get out of the army.
I will write again as soon as I get a chance. Write soon. Continue to direct your letters to Knoxville as we will have a regular mail to follow us as we advance. Good Bye, 

Confederate concern about Federal position at Cumberland Gap
Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG, Chattanooga, Tenn.
GEN: I have just returned from Gen. Carter Stevenson’s headquarters. With Gen. Stevenson I made a careful reconnaissance of the enemy’s position at Cumberland Gap. We cannot storm the place. They are strengthening their works, and can subsist for a considerable time from the country north of the mountain unless the Gap is invested on the north side.
Independent of the command of Gen. Stevenson I have only troops sufficient to guard our depot and the railroad bridges and a few Partisan Rangers, Col. Smith’s Legion. The Legion is now moving to Big Creek Gap to co-operate with Gen. Stevenson to cut off a force blockading Big Creek and Rogers Gaps. I believe the [Cumberland] Gap would soon fall if I had men to invest the north side. I should have done so if I could have collected 3,000 men.
Your calling on me for Smith’s Legion leaves me hardly able to guard the different gaps. I have organized some 1,500 old soldiers (joining their regiments) that I shall forward as soon as armed and Big Creek Gap opened or that I can safely send them by the Jamestown route. Rest assured, general, that I shall do all I can to forward your wishes. The situation of East Tennessee is not satisfactory. I fear trouble.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. S. BRADFORD, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 810.

“The recovery of Cumberland Gap is a necessity …”
Gen. S. COOPER, Richmond, Va.:
GEN.: The Federal forces at Cumberland Gap have taken advantage of the advance of Gen. Smith’s command into Kentucky to blockade the passes through mountains which Gen. Smith entered Kentucky. A detachment of Kentucky cavalry left a few days since without orders to join Gen. Smith and were captured near Pine Mountain.
Gen. Smith is calling on me for re-enforcements. Gen. Bragg has ordered a portion of my small command to join Gen. Smith. I shall obey the order. With the force at my command at present I can only invest the Gap on this side, guard the various mountain passes and the railroad bridges.
I am unpleasantly situated, taking in view the necessity of recovering Cumberland Gap, the key to East Tennessee and the requisitions for re-enforcements for Kentucky. The recovery of Cumberland Gap is a necessity to the peace and quiet of this deluded region. It cannot be recovered unless it can be reinvested on the north side.
I cannot do this and send off the forces to Kentucky called for unless in his confusion Gen. Morgan may abandon it. I am now organizing a force to re-enforce Gen. Smith and escort funds. I shall push it forward as soon as it is of sufficient strength to certainly protect these funds.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. McCOWN, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. II, p. 814.

17 SEPTEMBER 1862 – 3 OCTOBER 1862
Union Army Evacuates Cumberland Gap
March of its garrison to Greenupburg [now Greensburg] KY
Report of Brig. Gen. W. Morgan, U. S. Army.
HDQRS. UNITED STATES FORCES, Greenupburg, Ky., October 3, 1862.
GEN.: On the night of the 17th of September, with the army of Stevenson 3 miles in my front, with Bragg and Marshall on my flanks, and Kirby Smith in my rear, my command marched from Cumberland Gap mid the explosion of mines and magazines and lighted by the blaze of the store-houses of the commissary and quartermaster. The sight was grand.
Stevenson was taken completely by surprise. At 5 o’clock p. m. on the 17th instant I sent him three official letters. The officers of our respective flags remained together in friendly chat for an hour. I have brought away all the guns but four 30- pounders, which were destroyed by knocking off the trunnions. During our march we were constantly enveloped by the enemy’s cavalry, first by the Stevenson and since by the [Gen. John Hunt] Morgan brigade.
Throughout I maintained the offensive, and on one day marched twenty hours and on three successive nights drove Morgan’s men from their supper. Morgan first assailed us in the rear and then passed to our front, blockading the road and destroying subsistence. For three successive days we were limited to the water of stagnant pools and that in small quantities. We expected to meet Humphrey Marshall at this place, but have been disappointed. Unless otherwise ordered I will proceed with my column to Camp Dennison to rest and refit.
With high respect,
Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 16, pt. I, p. 990.

The Federals commenced burning their army stores last night at 8 o’clock. They blew up their magazines after midnight, and marched out before day. We advanced this morning and occupied the Gap, and found a great quantity of property destroyed and some not destroyed. The enemy had spiked the guns in the forts on the mountain peaks, and they left a great number of sick in the Gap. We will move on in pursuit of them.
~ Diary of William E. Sloan.

USA George W. Morgan saves his men from starvation by leading them
north out of Tennessee, through Kentucky to safety on the Ohio River.

The Great March from Cumberland Gap
3 October 1862 ended one of the epic marches in American military history, the evacuation of the Union garrison at Cumberland Gap to the Ohio River. The men, 7,000 under Brigadier General George W. Morgan, endured a test not often found in the annals of the United States Army. What they achieved is on a par with other great movements like Benedict Arnold’s march to Quebec in 1775, Stephen Kearny’s march to California in 1846, and Joseph Stilwell’s walkout from Burma in 1942. Yet it is largely forgotten outside of Kentucky.
Here is that story.
When the Confederates invaded Kentucky in August 1862, a 9,000-strong division under Carter Stevenson diverted to besiege George Morgan’s garrison at Cumberland Gap. Cut off from the outside, the men (many from East Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky) could only watch their rations diminish and wonder at what was happening elsewhere. No word came as August turned into September.
On September 6 the garrison’s bread ran out. Six days later, later the post quartermaster reported that feed for the horses and mules was almost exhausted. If these animals starved to death, the garrison would lose its mobility and would never be able to leave the Gap.
George Morgan now faced a critical decision. On September 14 he met with his staff and senior commanders. After considering the situation carefully, all present agreed that the Gap needed to be evacuated. Having thus decided to leave Cumberland Gap, the next question was where to go. A march on the Old Wilderness Road toward Lexington or Central Kentucky would mean a likely encounter with Confederates, not something George Morgan was willing to risk with his half-starved men. Win or lose, his force might be so crippled by a major fight that it would be unable to get to Union lines.
The only other alternative was to go through the mountains to the Ohio River, 200 miles to the north. But this option meant a major movement into a wild region using narrow roads and defiles that could easily be blocked by an intrepid opponent. George Morgan marked a possible route on a map, and he showed it to some officers who were familiar with Eastern Kentucky’s mountains. Almost to a man they agreed it would be a tough road, with little forage or water to be found. One officer, the former Kentucky State Geologist, said that the Federals could “possibly” get through, but only “by abandoning the artillery and wagons.” Despite the risks, George Morgan decided to try and bring out his whole force through the mountains.
After several days of preparations, George Morgan’s men left Cumberland Gap at 8 P.M. on September 17. They burned everything not movable and blocked the road to delay pursuit. Turning northeast past Manchester, the Federals moved into the mountains while Confederates under John Hunt Morgan and Humphrey Marshall exerted every effort to block their progress, While the wagons moved through defiles, East Tennessee infantry covered from the ridges above.
George Morgan later summarized the hunt in the Eastern Kentucky mountains: “Frequent skirmishes took place, and it several times happened that while the one Morgan was clearing out the obstructions at the entrance to a defile, the other Morgan was blocking the exit from the same defile with enormous rocks and felled trees.
In the work of clearing away these obstructions, one thousand men, wielding axes, saws, picks, spades, and block and tackle, under the general direction of Captain William F. Patterson, commanding his company of engineer-mechanics, and of Captain Sidney S. Lyon, labored with skill and courage. In one instance they were forced to cut a new road through the forest for a distance of four miles in order to turn a blockade of one mile.” 
The Confederates finally broke off pursuit October 1.
On October 3, 1862, George Morgan’s command crossed the Ohio River at Greensburg. After 219 miles and 16 days on the road, they had made it despite limited water, dwindling rations, and Confederate efforts. Federal losses totaled 80 men killed, wounded, and missing/deserted. Despite all odds, George Morgan had brought his men, wagons, and artillery to safety in the Buckeye State.

The Rev. E. K. Pitts and Hon. A. O. P. Nicholson had a series of appointments to address the people of East Tennessee on the subject of the war, extending from Loudon to Bristol, and closing on the 10th inst. The former was authorized by the rebel government to raise a regiment of volunteers. Maj. Gen. John P. McCown succeeded Gen. Kirby Smith in command of the Department of East Tennessee.
Gen. McCown publishes an order in the Knoxville Register of the 7th, revoking authority previously granted to impress or seize property, and thereafter impressments would only be made by a commanding officer or by a special order of the Major General Commanding the Department, the property to be receipted for at proper value in all cases.
The Knoxville Register of the 7th says: “Our latest advices from Cumberland Gap represents matters in status quo and every thing quiet.” What the programme of the rebel troops in relation to the besieged place, the Register says had not yet been developed. …
Nashville Dispatch

21 OCTOBER 1862
Stopping Confederate stragglers from reaching Knoxville.
Special Order No. 49
Headquarters Breckinridge’s Division, Knoxville.
Brig-Genl. Maxey will send a Regiment under one of his most competent officers out on the Tazewell road to Cumberland Gap to stop the stragglers from Gen’l Bragg’s army. He will order the officers in command to use such vigilance as will prevent their getting to the Rail Road Depot or into the town of Knoxville.
By Command of Maj. Gen. [John] Breckinridge.
Military daily log, 1862-1865,
William B. Bate collection.

21 OCTOBER 1862
Bragg’s Army of the Mississippi successfully completes its passage through Cumberland Gap and returns to Tennessee.

The Battles for Cumberland Gap 1863 coming in the near future.

Union Women of Northeast Tennessee Exiled in the Civil War

Confederate authorities provide escort for Mrs. William B. [Elizabeth] Carter to be exiled from Tennessee via Cumberland Gap. Her husband is the mastermind of the bridge burnings.

26 APRIL 1862
MADAM: I am directed by Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith respectfully to require that you and your family pass beyond the C. S. line in thirty-six hours from the delivery of this note by way of Cumberland Gap. Passports and an escort will be furnished you for your protection to the enemy’s line.
Very respectfully,
OR, Ser. II, Vol. I, pp. 885-886.

Tennessee Women in the Civil War, Tennessee State Museum

28 APRIL 1862
Col. W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.
Mrs. Carter will go unhesitatingly but has a sick child just now but can go in a few days. She says she has not the funds. She is in bad health and must take a nurse with her, a slave. You will answer by 12 o’clock.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 1, p. 887.

30 APRIL 1862
Mrs. Carter and her two children will leave to-morrow night for Norfolk. You will send passports, transportation for myself and everything else that is necessary. Send them by the conductor of the next train; if otherwise I will not get them in time. Also send me $50.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 1, p. 887.

19 MAY 1862
Elizabethton, Tenn.
Colonel W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.
DEAR SIR: A few days since I communicated with Mrs. Carter in reference to her departure for the Federal lines. I called on Mrs. Carter a few moments since. Two of her children are a little sick now but will be well in a few days. She is anxious to go to her husband and if allowed to take a nurse she will go much more cheerfully. She says she won’t go a step till her children get well enough to travel and till she is allowed to carry a nurse to assist her with the children. She prefers going by Cumberland Gap.
Very respectfully,
Deputy Provost-Marshal.

21 APRIL 1862 – 23 APRIL 1862:
Confederate authorities order Mrs. Horace Maynard to leave Northeast Tennessee.

21 APRIL 1862
Wife of U.S. Congressman Horace Maynard expelled from Northeast Tennessee.
Mrs. MAYNARD, Knoxville.
MADAM: By order of Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith I am directed respectfully to require that yourself and family pass beyond the C. S. line in thirty-six hours.
Col. and Provost-Marshal.

22 APRIL 1862
Gen. S. COOPER, Richmond, Va.:
I have directed Maynard’s family to leave East Tennessee. I wish them to go via Norfolk. Can they pass that way?
Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

23 APRIL 1862
Maj. H. L. CLAY, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
SIR: This office has had no communicate with Mrs. Maynard since notifying her but understand she leaves this morning. No application has been made for passport. No officer has yet reported to go to Norfolk. Will be sent to Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith’s headquarters for instructions as soon as he reports here.
Col. and Provost-Marshal.

23 APRIL 1862
Dr. F. A. RAMSEY, Surgeon.
DOCTOR: I am directed by the major-general commanding to inform you in response to your communication of this date that Mrs. Maynard will not be required to leave before the expiration of the time at which you state she will be able to bear the fatigue of travel.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

24 APRIL 1862
Mrs. Horace Maynard seeks Confederate passports for slaves
SIR: Mrs. Maynard applies for passports for two servants understood to be slaves. I am directed to ask your decision as to whether they are her property or not.

25 APRIL 1862
Confederate escort to lead Mrs. Horace Maynard out of East Tennessee
The following-named persons are allowed in charge of Lieut. Joseph H. Speed to pass out of the Confederate States Government by way of Norfolk, Va.:
Mrs. Horace Maynard and three children.
Col. and Provost-Marshal.

25 APRIL 1862
Confederate escort to lead Mrs. Horace Maynard out of East Tennessee
The following-named persons are allowed in charge of Lieut. Joseph H. Speed to pass out of the Confederate States Government by way of Norfolk, Va.:
Mrs. Horace Maynard and three children.
Col. and Provost-Marshal.

14 MAY 1862
Confederate escort for the exile of Mrs. Robert K. Byrd, East Tennessee loyalist
MADAM: Will it suit your convenience to visit Kentucky next week as formerly proposed by private conveyance to Cumberland Gap with proper escort? It is important to you as well as others. The colonel [her husband] has been quite sick, but I learn has recovered and joined his regiment now at Cumberland Ford.
Very respectfully,
W. M. CHURCHWELL, Col. and Provost-Marshal.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 1, p. 888.

MINI BIO: Robert King Byrd
Robert K. Byrd was a Union soldier and politician from Roane County, East Tennessee. He married Mary Lucinda Lea in 1861. Although he owned slaves, Byrd remained loyal to the Union. He was a delegate to the East Tennessee Convention in May and June 1861. At the June session in Greeneville, Byrd made a secret pact with several other delegates to begin raising and drilling military units to defend their homeland.
In August 1861, Byrd fled to Kentucky where he joined the Union Army as a colonel and was assigned to command the First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, the first Union regiment composed primarily of refugees from East Tennessee. They took part in numerous skirmishes in and around Cumberland Gap and at the Battle of Mill Springs in January 1862.
Col. Byrd was not at home in May 1862 when Confederate authorities exiled his wife from Tennessee.
On 31 December 1862, Byrd led an attack that cleared the Confederates out of the woods near the front lines at the Battle of Stones River and received high praise from his brigade commander, Gen. James G. Spears. Col. Byrd’s unit was mounted in May 1863, and renamed the First Tennessee Mounted Infantry. A month later they joined in Col. William P. Sanders’ East Tennessee raid that destroyed railroad lines and bridges in the Knoxville area. Byrd’s knowledge of the area contributed to the raid’s success.
During the Knoxville Campaign in late 1863, Byrd and his unit were posted in his home town of Kingston. They took part in several skirmishes during the campaign, including one at Mossy Creek in Jefferson County in December 1863. In May 1864, Byrd’s troops were dismounted and sent to Georgia where they fought in various locations. In August 1864, the unit completed its three-year period of service. The First Tennessee Infantry Regiment were mustered out of the Union Army in Knoxville. They received high praise as the “first among the patriotic men from East Tennessee to take up arms in defense of the Union.”

Eliza O’Brien Brownlow, left

21 APRIL 1862
Mrs. Eliza Brownlow, Knoxville.
MADAM: By order of Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith I am directed respectfully to require that yourself and family pass beyond the C. S. line in thirty-six hours.
Col. and Provost-Marshal.

21 APRIL 1862
Col. W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.
SIR: Your official note as provost-marshal for East Tennessee ordering myself and family to remove beyond the limits of the Confederate States within the next thirty-six hours is just received and I hasten to reply to it. My husband as you are aware is not here to afford me his protection and counsel; and being well nigh in the evening of life with a family of dependent children I have to request as a matter of indulgence that you extend the time for my exile a few days longer as to leave within the time prescribed by your mandate would result in the total sacrifice of my private interests. I have to request further information [as to] what guarantee of safety your passport will afford myself and family.
Yours, &c.,

21 APRIL 1862
Mrs. W. G. BROWNLOW, Knoxville.
MADAM: By Major General E. Kirby Smith
I am directed most respectfully to inform you that you and your children are not held as hostages for the good behavior of your husband as represented by him in a speech at Cincinnati recently, and that yourself and family will be required to pass beyond the C. S. line on thirty-six hours from this date. Passports will be granted you from this office.
Very respectfully,
Colonel and Provost-Marshal.

22 APRIL 1862
MADAM: At your request the time for your leaving to join your husband is extended until Thursday morning next. The route will be via Kingston and Sparta. Your safety will be the soldiers sent along for your protection to the lines of the enemy.
Very respectfully,
Colonel and Provost-Marshal.

23 APRIL 1862
Maj. H. L. CLAY, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
SIR: Names of the following persons to go to Norfolk: Mrs. Eliza Brownlow and three children, Miss Mary Brownlow, Mrs. Sue C. Sawyers and child, John B. Brownlow.
Col. and Provost-Marshal.

24 APRIL 1862
Lieut. JOSEPH H. SPEED, Twentieth Regt. Alabama Volunteers.
SIR: The major-general commanding directs that you proceed from this place to-morrow morning in charge of the following-named persons: Mrs. Eliza Brownlow and three children, Miss Mary Brownlow, Mrs. Sue C. Sawyers and child, John B. Brownlow, Mrs. Maynard and three children, whom you will take to Norfolk, Va., to be transported thence to the enemy’s lines. You will show them all proper attention on the way thither and protect them against offensive intrusion.
After arriving at Norfolk you will report to the commanding officer and request that just prior to their embarkation a careful examination be made of their luggage and persons for letters or papers of a treasonable character. If any such should be discovered you will detain Mr. [Parson] Brownlow and bring him with you upon return to Knoxville when you will report to these headquarters.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

25 APRIL 1862
The following-named persons are allowed (in charge of Lieutenant Joseph H. Speed) to pass out of the Confederate States Government by way of Norfolk, Va.:
Mrs. Eliza Brownlow and three children, Miss Mary Brownlow, Mrs. Sue C. Sawyers and child, John B. Brownlow.
Colonel and Provost-Marshal.

28 APRIL 1862
Just received. The persons are here. Lieutenant Speed reports this order is from General Kirby Smith. I will detain the party here. Please telegraph me if I shall send them to Fort Monroe.

28 APRIL 1862
Major General BENJAMIN HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:
The Brownlow family which has been sent to Norfolk by the commanding general of the Department of East Tennessee for the purpose of being transported to the enemy’s line will be sent by you to Fortress Monroe.
By order of the Secretary of War:
A. T. BLEDSOE, Assistant Secretary of War.

Eliza McCardle Johnson, Wife of Military Governor Andrew Johnson

21 APRIL 1862.
MADAM: By Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith I am directed to respectfully require that you and your family pass beyond the C. S. line through Nashville if you please in thirty-six hours. Passports will be granted you at this office.
Very respectfully,
W. M. CHURCHWELL, Col. and Provost-Marshal.
OR, Ser. II, Vol. I, p. 884.

26 APRIL 1862 – Confederate authorities give Mrs. Andrew Johnson more time to prepare for exile
MADAM: Your note to Maj. Gen. E. Kirby Smith has been referred to this office and I am directed respectfully to reply in order to give you more time to make your arrangements for leaving. The time is extended thirty-six hours from the delivery of this second note when the major-general hopes you will be ready to comply with his request. You can go by way of Norfolk, Va., north, or by Kingston to Nashville. Passports and an escort will be furnished for your protection.
Very respectfully,
Col. and Provost-Marshal.
OR, Ser. II, Vol. I, p. 885.

28 APRIL 1862
A. J. Campbell’s failed mission to force Mrs. Andrew Johnson into exile
JONESBOROUGH, TENN., April 28, 1862. Col. W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.
SIR: My mission to Mrs. Johnson was unsatisfactory. She said she would not go North but Judge Patterson and her son Charles have assured me that she would go. You will please state what goods and chattels she will be allowed to take with her; also how much money and if you are willing that her son Charles shall accompany her. He is a young unmarried gentleman and I think should go with his mamma.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 1, p. 887.

19 MAY 1862
Mrs. Andrew Johnson delays her exile from East Tennessee
OFFICE DEPUTY PROVOST-MARSHAL, Elizabethton, Tenn., May 19, 1862.
Col. W. M. CHURCHWELL, Provost-Marshal.
DEAR SIR: A few days since I communicated with Mrs. Johnson in reference to her departure for the Federal lines. Col. Dan. Stover called on me yesterday and stated that Mrs. Johnson’s health was still very poor with no prospect of improvement shortly if ever. I have consulted with several physicians who state that Mrs. Johnson is consumptive and to remove her will probably cause her death. She is very anxious to remain here with her children and is not at all desirous to go the bosom of “Andy.”
I think Mrs. Johnson’s health is not likely to improve; so if she has to go, now is as good a time as any. These people are very quiet now. A great many gladly circulate false rumors in relation to Federal victories but I can’t find out the originators of such stories.
Very respectfully,
Deputy Provost-Marshal. OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, pp. 888-889.

12 OCTOBER – 13 OCTOBER 1862
Charles Johnson to his father Military Governor Andrew Johnson concerning reception given to family in Confederate Murfreesborough
We reached this place Friday evening at nine o’clock in a cold rain—got out of the cars-found no hotel in the place-and nearly all the private houses full-no place to put baggage, no hacks, no servants. . . We wandered about the town for an hour or two and finally succeeded after pleading, entreating, begging in getting a house to sleep on the floor without any fire.
At six o’clock Saturday morning [October 13] General [Nathan Bedford] Forrest sent a deputation of soldiers for us to appear before him immediately. We appeared before him. He. . . informed us that Jesus Christ could not cross his lines and that we should immediately return [to East Tennessee] by the seven o’clock train-that the War Department had no control of his lines. . .
We were now known in the town and not a soul would let us in his house. We were annoyed by taunts and jeers of a rabble soldiery. . . Finally we got a room in a vacant house. . . We put the women and children in this room where they stayed all night, we men laying in the cars by courtesy of the baggage master …
~ Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 6, p. 23.

First home of Andrew and Eliza Johnson in Greeneville, Tennessee

Eliza Johnson’s Health Issues
In 1852, at age 43, Eliza gave birth to their last child – a son, Andrew Jr. (called Frank). About this time she contracted ‘consumption’ (tuberculosis). Within a year, the disease was limiting her physical activity and prevented her from traveling with Andrew to Nashville when he was sworn in as the new Governor of Tennessee (1853–1857). Trapped in Greeneville, Tennessee, Eliza engaged in social welfare work for the Methodist Church. Four of her five children soon left home, and Eliza was content to manage the family businesses, raise Frank, coordinate the family’s nine slaves, and maintain the household.

Life as Civil War Refugees
In fear for his life, Andrew Johnson escaped to Union lines and traveled to Washington DC where he remained, cut-off from his family. Confederate troops occupied East Tennessee on 26 July 1861, and Eliza and her family were singled out as “Unionists,” and placed on the watch list.
In April 1862, Confederate authorities ordered Eliza Johnson and her family to leave Northeast Tennessee. Eliza’s fragile health prevented her from doing so, and they were granted her a temporary reprieve. Five months later, after their property was confiscated, Eliza was given papers to travel through Confederate lines to Nashville, where her husband was serving as military governor of Tennessee (1862-1865) in Union-held Middle Tennessee. Eliza and her family then became refugees. In September 1862, the family were detained in Confederate-occupied Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where they had to go door-to-door asking for shelter and food. Confederate sympathizers harassed and threatened them, but they eventually made their way to Nashville.
A Nashville diarist wrote: “The great joy at the reunion of this long and sorrowfully separated family may be imagined. … Even the Governor’s Roman firmness was overcome, and he wept tears of thankfulness at this merciful deliverance of his beloved ones from the hands of their unpitying persecutors.”

Johnson Family Civil War Tragedies
There would be little time to enjoy her new home and family. She soon received news that her son Robert—an officer in the Union Army was severely ill in Cincinnati due to his alcoholism. Eliza traveled there to assist and comfort him.

Robert Johnson

21 NOVEMBER 1863
Andrew Johnson letter to son Robert
Nashville, Nov 21st 1863
My dear Son,
Your note of the 17th is now before me. My sources of grief and care have been enough without your adding to them at this time. I have been determined that no act of mine should be an excuse for your recent course of Conduct and do not now intend to depart from it. You tender your resignation, predicated upon my wish for you to do so, and as I obtained the Commission … to require you to resign and therefore you do resign.

I have not indicated to you by work or deed any desire or wish on my part, that you Should resign your Commission as Col of the regiment; but on the contrary have expressed myself in the most emphatic terms, that I would rather See you once more yourself again and at the head of your Regiment, going to your own native home, than be possessed by the highest honors which Could be conferred upon me. In this so far, I have been doomed to deep disappointment.

I have said and now repeat that I feared you would be dismissed from the Army unless you reformed and took Command of your Regiment and give Some evidence of determination to Serve the country as a sober, upright, and honorable man. I have also said further, that your own reputation and that of an exiled family, required one of two things, reformation in your habits and attention to business, or to withdraw from the Army. One or the other is due yourself, the Regiment, and the Government.

This is what I have Said, it is what I now feel and think. Though, my son, I feel that I am but discharging the duty of a father who has devoted his whole life to the elevation of those he expects to leave behind him. In your letter you Say my will is the law with you, in reference to the resignation. I do most sincerely wish that my will was the law in regard to your future Course. I would be willing this night [to] resign my existence into the hands of him who gave it.
Your devoted father,
Andrew Johnson
Papers of Andrew Johnson, Vol. 6, p. 485.

After his resignation from the First Tennessee Union Cavalry, Robert Johnson served as his father’s private secretary. Unable to overcome a lifelong battle with alcoholism, Robert would commit suicide on 22 April 1869 at age 35.

Martha Johnson Patterson
Martha’s husband, Judge  David Patterson, was arrested in November 1861, and was to be sent to jail at Tuscaloosa, AL, as a prisoner of war. The next news I find of him mentions that he has been elected president of the Nashville Refugee Aid Society.
18 March 1864.
Nashville Dispatch:
“… Assembled at the office of the Secretary of State at ten o’clock yesterday morning, and organized by the election of Hon. David T. Patterson, President, [who] announced the object of the meeting to be, to devise some means for the relief of those families who have been driven from their homes by the devastations of the war, and are temporarily residing in this division of the State.”
Apparently, Patterson has been released from his arrest and has joined his wife and family at Nashville.
19 May 1864
Relief for East Tennessee
Nashville Dispatch:
“This noble work is still progressing [relief work]. There has been received in this city about 400 tons of supplies, consisting principally of flour, corn, and bacon. Another cargo of 150 tons is expected this week. They are being forwarded at the rate of one car load per day. It is to be regretted that the agencies of the army for the past two months have prevented their speedier shipment, but even at this rate, all has been forwarded except about 70 tons. Accounts from all parts of East Tennessee represent the people in great destitution, and agents sent from particular localities for provisions bring with them most undoubted evidence that unless relief can be procured within ten days, the people of those localities will be compelled to leave the country to save themselves from starvation. Every effort will be made to supply these districts first.”

Charles Johnson
In April 1863, Eliza’s oldest son Charles—an assistant surgeon in the Union Army—was thrown from a horse and killed instantly. Eliza never fully recovered from his sudden death. He was 33 years old.

Andrew Johnson Jr. – “Frank”
The youngest Johnson son, Andrew Jr., [called Frank] was the only son to marry, but had no children. Like his mother, he suffered from tuberculosis; he also drank to excess. Frank liked to write. He tried his hand at journalism after the war, founding the Greeneville Intelligencer; the paper failed after two years. Andrew Johnson, Jr. died on March 12, 1879 at age 26.

Mary Johnson Stover, widow of Daniel Stover
Eliza’s son-in-law, Daniel Stover—husband of her daughter Mary—had been in charge of burning the bridge at the town of Zollicoffer on 8 November 1861. During the Unionist uprising that followed the ET&VA bridge burnings, he and his men were routed from their camp at Doe River Cove in Carter County, Northeast Tennessee.
Daniel hid out in the cold and damp winter in the mountains, which ruined his health. Due to his weakened condition, he also contracted ‘consumption’ [tuberculosis]. Daniel joined the Union Army and tried bravely to serve in his regiment, but his disease would not allow it. Col. Daniel Stover died on 18 December 1864 at age 38.

Eliza Johnson’s health remained poor for the remainder of her life. She passed on 15 January 1876 at age 65.

1861 Confederates Arrest Northeast Tennessee Unionists

8 JUNE 1861
Tennessee joins the Confederacy.

14 JUNE 1861
The Memphis Appeal publishes a list of the Tennessee counties that voted to remain in the Union, all in East Tennessee: Anderson, Bradley, Campbell, Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Knox, Marion, Monroe, Roane, Sevier, Sullivan, Union, and Washington. The paper also reports that a state warrant has been issued for the arrest of Andrew Johnson for treason to Tennessee.

Lots to do and see in Johnson City, Northeast Tennessee

1 JULY 1861
Orders issued to raise Union troops in Kentucky and Tennessee.

26 JULY 1861
Gen. Felix Zollicoffer and his Confederate troops occupy Northeast Tennessee, and Northeast Tennessee Unionists begin to think of ways to undermine Confederate authority.

Unionists challenge Confederate commanders
For the next two-plus years, Gens. Felix Zollicoffer, E. Kirby Smith, and SAM. JONES seesaw between harsh treatment to control the Unionists and kind gestures to gain their support, but had little success whether they arrest hundreds of Unionist leaders or allow Union men to escape the Confederate draft. 

In the election of August 1861,Tennessee Governor Isham Harris repeatedly urges East Tennesseans to vote for Confederate candidates, but they elect several U. S. congressmen. This angers Harris, and the Confederate government begins to suppress Union sentiment by arresting leaders and demanding loyalty oaths. 

RICHMOND, August 1, 1861.
Brigadier General F. K. ZOLLICOFFER:
Retain at Bristol under your orders such of the Tennessee regiments now there or that may arrive there until further advised. You are assigned to the command of the District of East Tennessee.
S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General.

10 AUGUST 1861
KNOXVILLE, August 10, 1861.
Adjutant-General COOPER [CSA]:
News received that John Baxter is arrested at Lynchburg. This is unfortunate. He is a Unionist, but has my permission to go to [Thomas A. R.] Nelson and counsel with him as a lawyer and friend. He gave me assurance of conciliatory influence there, and here his arrest embarrasses my plans of conciliation.

MINI BIO: John Baxter
John Baxter, a Knoxville attorney, opposes secession at first. But after Confederate troops win the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, Baxter gradually abandons his stance for the Union and begins to lean toward the Confederate government. In September 1861, he takes the Oath of Allegiance to the Confederacy, partly because he wants to provide legal support to the Northeast Tennessee Unionists who have been arrested. He believes the North cannot defeat the South in a war. …
Baxter suggests to CSA Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin that if he would be more lenient toward the Unionists, they might be receptive to Confederate rule. Benjamin states that those who are guilty of crimes will be punished. Great numbers of people are arrested and thrown into the Knoxville jail.
In September 1861, Baxter runs for his district’s seat in the Confederate Congress, but is defeated by a very wide margin. He spends late 1861 and early 1862 defending Unionists who have been charged with various crimes by Confederate authorities.
After the East Tennessee bridge-burnings in November 1861, Baxter defends many of the accused conspirators. In February 1862, Baxter launches a newspaper, the East Tennessean, in an attempt to bring the Unionists and the Confederates closer together.
He delivers a speech in which he states there is no hope for the Confederacy, which upsets CSA Gen. E. Kirby Smith. At Smith’s request, Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston arrests Baxter while he is in Memphis. He is released after a few days, but uses this as an excuse to return to his pro-Union stance, blaming Governor Isham Harris for his arrest.
When Union forces occupy Knoxville in September 1863, Baxter is recognized as a friend of the Union and is appointed to the East Tennessee Relief Association, which provides aid to Unionists who have been mistreated by Confederate authorities.
Baxter is nominated by President Rutherford B. Hayes on 6 December 1877 as a judge on the United States Circuit Courts for the Sixth Circuit. He is confirmed by the U. S. Senate on 13 December 1877 and receives his commission the same day. He serves in that position until his death on 2 April 1886.

10 AUGUST 1861
KNOXVILLE, August 10, 1861.
Adjutant-General COOPER [CSA]:
News received that John Baxter is arrested at Lynchburg. This is unfortunate. He is a Unionist, but has my permission to go to [Thomas A. R.] Nelson and counsel with him as a lawyer and friend. He gave me assurance of conciliatory influence there, and here his arrest embarrasses my plans of conciliation.
Brigadier- General.

14 AUGUST 1861
President Davis issues a proclamation warning that Union sympathizers should leave the Confederate States.

15 AUGUST 1861
The States of Kentucky and Tennessee constitute the Department of the Cumberland, under command of Gen. Robert Anderson USA.

16 AUGUST 1861
Nashville, August 16, 1861.
Honorable L. P. WALKER [CSA], War Department, Richmond.
SIR: I am satisfied from the movements of the Union men of East Tennessee that more troops should be stationed in that division of the State.
If you can order a sufficient number of troops from States south of us to that point, the adoption of a decided and energetic policy (which I am resolved upon so soon as I have a sufficient fore to sustain it), m the arrest and indictment for treason of the ringleaders, will give perfect peace and quiet to that division of our State in the course of two months. If the suggestion with regard to East Tennessee is to be acted upon at all it should be done at once as every moment’s delay but increases the danger of an outbreak there.
Very respectfully,

A quick note about [William G.] ‘Parson’ Brownlow, author of the article that follows. He is a former clergyman, which explains his nickname, and a strong supporter of the Union. A very excitable man, in his newspaper, the Knoxville Whig, he attacks anyone who has views other than his own, especially Confederate authorities and civilians. I am posting this unedited to allow you to fully appreciate the articles Mr. Brownlow publishes in his paper. I apologize for the large glob of text.

Northeast Tennessee Civil War Map

From Brownlow’s Whig, Saturday, Aug. 10, 1861
Published by the New York Times Aug. 18, 1861
In the First Congressional District, Mr. NELSON has been reelected to Congress by a majority of five or six thousand votes. In the Second District, Mr. MAYNARD has been elected by a majority of about six thousand votes. And in the Third District, Mr. BRIDGES has been elected by a majority of from one to two thousand votes.

Messrs. BRIDGES and MAYNARD, it is said, have both crossed the mountains into Kentucky, and have gone to Washington. No matter what may be said as to the propriety of these gentlemen going to Washington to take their seats, it is due them to say they became candidates for the Congress of the United States and were elected to go there, their constituents desiring to be represented in the Federal Congress, and not in the Congress of the Southern Confederacy. They were so announced in this paper, as candidates before the people. Their competitors so stated to the people, and no one was deceived in their running the race for Congress.

Mr. NELSON, who announced himself a candidate for the United States Congress, was elected by an overwhelming vote, and by a constituency who desired to be represented at Washington. In crossing from Rogersville to Kentucky, on Saturday last, he was arrested in the corner of Lee County, Va., by an armed military force of thirty men and taken as a prisoner to Abingdon, from which point it is said he will be taken to Richmond, to be incarcerated until he can be tried for treason against the Southern Confederacy, by secession judges, before secession jurors, and upon the testimony of secession witnesses.

That he will be convicted, no sensible man can doubt for a moment. His son DAVID, and some two or three other gentlemen were with him, and all were arrested, and the presumption is they are all together in Richmond as prisoners. The exploit was one of a daring and grand military character — thirty armed mounted men taking four or five civilian prisoners, who were armed with pocket pistols! Those who led in the charge ought [to] be promoted in the Confederate Army!

The treason of Mr. NELSON consists in his having advocated the cause of the Union, and the Stars and Stripes of his country, in opposition to the heresy of secession. To this grievous offence, he has added the unpardonable sin of permitting his fellow-citizens to elect him to Congress. To be consistent, and to carry out their principles, they ought now to arrest, and send on to Richmond, every man in the District who voted for NELSON.

We have but little to say, now, respecting this arrest, and the hot haste with which the gallant and patriotic NELSON has been hurried off to Richmond. We shall await the action of the authorities there, with some degree of interest, as will the thousands of Union men in East Tennessee. Before dismissing the subject, however, we will take occasion to congratulate the people of Richmond in this, that when they cast into their filthy city prison THOMAS A.R. NELSON, they will have more bruins, patriotism, honor and chivalry in their prison, than can be found in the Rump Congress!

Col. BAXTER, of this city, has gone to Richmond, or such other point as they may choose to stop and try NELSON, to act as his friend and counsel. He goes as a volunteer, having no intercourse with NELSON since his arrest. We doubt whether he will be allowed a showing.

For weeks past, with our large list of subscribers, our weekly expenses have exceeded our income, and hence our paper has been carried on at a pecuniary sacrifice. Our exchange papers are kept back and not allowed to come to Knoxville. Our letters are broken open and robbed in all directions and our newspaper packages are laid aside or destroyed, so as to keep them out of the hands of our subscribers. At Cumberland Gap, or the office near there, we are informed, upon reliable authority, there is a large pile of letters, to say nothing of papers, addressed to us, which Secessionists will not allow to come forward. These letters no doubt — mostly from Kentucky — contain several hundred dollars for subscriptions.

At Bristol, we are informed our paper is thrown aside, and not allowed to go further East. One contemptible puppy, who fills the dignified position of route agent on the railroad, boasted in this city that he intended to destroy the papers sent out by him because they were incendiary sheets. Similar acts of perfidy are committed all over the country by a set of unprincipled villains, who handle mail matter, and whose only title to public favor and confidence is that they have the honor to wear around their necks a collar having upon it this inscription: “I AM JEFF. DAVIS’ DOG; WHOSE DOG ARE YOU?”

In addition to all this, the fact has come to our knowledge, and from different reliable sources, that the Confederate authorities at Richmond have ordered that our Knoxville Whig must no longer be published or transmitted through the mails to subscribers. The order has not yet been given, but we are in daily expectation of it, unless it, he rescinded, and it of course closes us out in business. We presume that those who are destroying our mails, and our packages sent off, are acting under this order.

Is this the boasted freedom of the Press, of speech, and of conscience we hear of in the new Southern Confederacy? And does this freedom, guaranteed by: the Constitution of Tennessee, unrepealed as yet, enter into this war for Southern Rights and Independence? If so, may God deliver us and our Union countrymen from such freedom, and from the enjoyment of such rights!

The Usurper and Tyrant LINCOLN, so much abused for invading the soil, and personal rights, of others, tolerates the publication of journals in Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, New-York, Connecticut and New-Hampshire, which oppose him in all his measures, and advocate this Southern rebellion. But the only Union paper in the entire Southern Confederacy, having any circulation among the honest people, must be crushed out by the liberty-loving and tyrant-hating authorities of the Southern Confederacy at Richmond!

We have been told that the Confederacy, conscious of uprightness of purpose, and knowing that her cause is just, feared no discussion, but threw open wide her doors and invited the light of heaven to shine in upon her men and measures! We supposed that with her hundreds of journals, able and strong, stretching from the District of Columbia to the Western frontiers of Texas, she could combat the errors of one Union paper among the mountains of East Tennessee. But no, this boasted Confederacy finds it necessary to frown down investigation, to check the progress of free inquiry, and for what? Why, for-sooth, lest her deeds should be reproved.

It is an old proverb, but as true now as centuries ago, “that none ever feared that the truth should be heard, but those that the truth would indict” — none, ever feared to come to the light but those whose deeds are evil. And when we find men loving darkness, and wishing to keep others in darkness, either in regard to their Government, or other transactions, we have reason to believe all is not right.

Leading men of the Union party, of unblemished character, must be rudely seized by an armed band of men, to gratify the malice of leading Secessionists in Knoxville, torn from their families, and rushed off, upon the cars to Richmond, and there thrown into a loathsome prison! The only press they have must be muzzled, its batteries silenced, and its readers and friends required to take the false statements of secession papers for the news of the day! Large bodies of armed men must be thrown into our country, and put in possession of all the principal towns and thorough-fares of the country, but no wrongs are to be inflicted upon the people of East Tennessee, nor are they to be deprived of any of their rights.

Can all this mean anything less than a declaration of war against East Tennessee? Is it not opening the ball, and inviting bloodshed in East Tennessee? What the effect of all this will be, we are wholly unable to say. It will either depress the Union forces of this end of the State, and cause them to cower like dogs, or it will make them frantic in defence of their gallant leaders down-trodden because of their principles, and arouse a thirst for vengeance and brave deeds! What Union leader, after all this, can any Longer meet his friends, and urge them to peace and moderation, as we know they have been doing?

So far as we are concerned, we can suspend our publication, in obedience to the dictates of tyranny and intolerance — we will yield to the demands of an armed mob — turn over to them our office and what little property we have — deprive ourselves and a helpless family of small children of the necessary means of support — and beg our bread from door to door among Union men who are able to give — but we shall refuse, most obstinately refuse, to the day of our death to think or speak favorably of such a Confederacy as this, or to agree that honor, patriotism, or love of country have influenced the men at its head, who have plunged the country into this revolution!

And whether our humble voice is hushed in death-whether our press is muzzled by the spirit of intolerance at Richmond, making this our last issue of a journal we have edited for almost a quarter of a century, we beg all who may come after us and our paper, to credit no secession falsehood that may represent us as having changed our principles from those of an exalted devotion to the old AMERICAN UNION, and of undying hostility to those who perpetrate its dissolution.
Editor of the Knoxville Whig.
AUG. 10, 1861.

26 AUGUST 1861
Knoxville, Tenn., August 26, 1861.
Colonel W. E. BALDWIN, Russellville, Tenn.

SIR: I have ordered you to move with your command and encamp at Fish Springs near the Johnson County line, because of the great disaffection as reported to me among the inhabitants of that county and of Carter adjoining, and in order that any efforts at rebellion against the authorities of the State or Confederacy may be quelled at once. I have information from various sources that a number of loyal citizens from those counties apprehending danger at the hands of the Federalists among them … who seem to … have fled for safety to Virginia and North Carolina.

I also learned to-day that two men were killed and others wounded recently by these Lincolnites. You will try and ascertain the facts in the case and report to me. You will report to headquarters as often as convenient or as circumstances may require the condition of affairs in those counties.

I desire you as much as possible to be conciliatory toward these people, adhering strictly to the policy indicated in my proclamation and in General Orders, Numbers 3. You will enjoin upon your men a scrupulous observance of the rights of persons and of property and all peaceable and law-abiding citizens. You will disarm and disperse all bodies of men in open hostility to the authorities of the State and of the Confederate States; capture and hold their leaders, and if resistance is offered and it becomes necessary, destroy them.

The following are the names of some of the Lincoln leaders in Johnson County, viz: Lewis Venable, of Laurel Creek; Northington, hotel-keeper at Taylorsville; R. R. Butler, Taylorsville, representative of the county; John G. Johnson and J. W. Merick, captains of Lincoln companies. Joseph P. Edoms, of Elizabethton, Carter County, and A. Evans, of Washington County, are also among the ringleaders of them.

If you obtain satisfactory evidence that these or other leaders are in open hostility to the authorities of the State or the Confederacy or stirring up rebellion against the same, you will arrest and detain them in custody. I will forward to your aid for scouting purposes a cavalry company so soon as I can arm them if you think their services are required.
By order of Brigadier G en. F. K. Zollicoffer:
P. B. LEE,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

Kentucky remains in the Union
As long as Kentucky is neutral, and allows no troops from either side to pass into her state, the northern border of Tennessee is protected. On this day Kentucky chose the Union and her neutrality ceased, and the entire northern boundary of Tennessee is exposed to possible invasion. Gen. Zollicoffer promptly advances his forces to Cumberland Gap. 

President Abraham Lincoln begins urging his generals to advance toward Cumberland Gap and East Tennessee, not only to aid the Unionists there but also to take possession of the strategic ET&VA Railroad. Moving an army into Northeast Tennessee appears to be extremely difficult; the terrain is rough, the roads poor, and the problems associated with supplying an advancing army seems almost insurmountable.

22 OCTOBER 1861
Wm. Blount Carter enters East Tennessee to initiate bridge burning.
Brig.-Gen. THOMAS. SIR: I reached here at 2 p. m. to day. I am within six miles of a company of rebel cavalry. I find our Union people in this part of the State firm and unwavering in their devotion to our Government and anxious to have an opportunity to assist in saving it. The rebels continue to arrest and imprison our people.

26 OCTOBER 1861
Letter about unlawful arrests in East Tennessee
MEMPHIS, October 26, 1861.
DEAR SIR: More than 100 persons have been arrested in East Tennessee without warrants in some cases, marched great distances and carried into court on no other charge than that they were Union men. In one case an old man named Duggan, a Methodist preacher, was arrested, carried fifty miles on foot (he a large, fleshy men), refused the privilege of riding his own horse, and all they had against him was that in February last he prayed for the Union. …

I have spent much time this summer and fall in trying to conciliate the people of East Tennessee. I thought I had succeeded. Just as the people were quieting down, getting reconciled, raising volunteers, &c., they commenced these arrests which have gone far to poison the minds of the people against the [CSA] Government, and if tolerated and persisted in the people of that end of the State at a critical moment will rise up enemies instead of friends.

You ask me who makes these arrests. As far as I can learn they are instigated by a few malicious, troublesome men in and about Knoxville. I always hear the names of W. G. Swan, William M. Churchwell, John H. Crozier, [John] Crozier Ramsey and the postmaster at Knoxville mixed up with these matters. It is these men [who] have private griefs and malice to gratify and they aim to bring down the avenging arm of the Government to satiate their passions.

Crozier Ramsey is the [Confederate] attorney-general [for Knox County]. It is said he in most cases causes the arrests and makes the affidavit. Just think of this—an attorney degrading himself by turning [into] an affidavit man. You may inquire what is the remedy? I answer turn out Ramsey; put some man in Middle or West Tennessee in his place who has dignity and character; turn out the postmaster at Knoxville.

If the President [Davis] will then make it known to all officials that he discountenances all frivolous arrests, things will quiet down. If, however, he refuses to do this, retains Ramsey, then we may look for great trouble in that end of the State. If the President will write Landon C. Haynes, Senator-elect, and any other respectable man in East Tennessee he will be at no loss what course to pursue. I address this to you to be certain the President will get it and receive attention.
Very respectfully
[Memphis attorney and member of the CSA General Assembly.]
Referred to the Secretary of War [Judah P. Benjamin], that such inquiry may be made and action taken as will prevent as far as we may such proceedings as are herein described.

28 OCTOBER 1861
HEADUQARTERS, Knoxville, October 28, 1861.
Brigadier General F. K. ZOLLICOFFER.
GENERAL: The news of your falling back to Cumberland Ford has had the effect of developing a feeling that has only been kept under by the presence of troops. It was plainly visible that the Union men were so elated that they could scarcely repress an open expression of their joy. This afternoon it assumed an open character and some eight or ten of the bullies and leaders made an attack on some of my men near the Lamar House and seriously wounded several.

Gentlemen who witnessed the whole affair say that my men gave no offense and were not at all to blame. The affair became pretty general and couriers were sent to me at my camp of its existence. I immediately marched Captain White’s cavalry and 100 of my men into the town to arrest the assailants but they made their escape. The Southerners here are considerably alarmed, believing that there is a preconcerted movement amongst the Union men if by any means the enemy should get into Tennessee.

J. Swan told me to-night that he heard one say this evening as Captain White’s cavalry rode through town that “they could do so now but in less than ten days the Union forces would be here and run them off.” I cannot well tell you the many evidences of disaffection which are manifested every day and the increased boldness that it is assuming. I deem it, however, of sufficient importance to be on the alert and as there are no other forces here now but a part of my regiment and Captains Gillespie’s and White’s cavalry, I think I had better keep my men there until others arrive.

The town is quiet this morning. The men who committed the assault on my men yesterday have left town, I am informed. The cannon and ammunition start this morning with orders to push on as rapidly as possible.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Post.

30 OCTOBER 1861
CAMP BUCKNER, October 30, 1861.
Colonel W. B. WOOD,
Sixteenth Alabama Regiment, Knoxville, Tenn.
SIR: If they attempt an invasion of East Tennessee it is rather probable they will move by way of the passes near Jacksborough or Jamestown. While our scouts are observing this road, they might be advancing by one of the other roads. I have therefore taken steps to have four cavalry companies employed in scouting from Jacksborough to Williamsburg.

Watch the movements of the Lincoln men in East Tennessee. Restrain our ultra friends from acts of indiscretion. Promptly meet and put down any attempted open hostility. But I have observed heretofore that a few of our friends about Knoxville are unnecessarily nervous; give their expressions of apprehension only their due weight.
Very respectfully,

Revolt of Unionists in Northeast Tennessee.

8 – 9 NOVEMBER 1861
Lick Creek railroad bridge burned on ET&VA Railroad in Northeast Tennessee.

Unionists swear their allegiance to the U. S. flag before burning Lick Creek Bridge.

KNOXVILLE, November 9, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN:
Two large bridges [at Zollicoffer in Sullivan County and at Lick Creek in Greene County] on my [rail]road were burned last night about 12 o’clock … and an effort made to burn the largest bridge on my [rail]road. There is great excitement along the whole line of road and evidence that the Union party are organizing and preparing to destroy or take possession of the whole line form Bristol to Chattanooga, and unless the Government is very prompt in giving us the necessary military aid, I much fear the result. The only hope for protection must be from the Government.

Unless the Government gives us the necessary aid and protection at once, transportation over my road of army supplies will be another impossibility; it cannot be done. We have arrested four of the individuals engaged in burning one bridge and know who burned another, but for want of the necessary military force, fear we cannot arrest them.
President East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad.

10 NOVEMBER 1861
Five of the men who burned Lick Creek Bridge are arrested
KNOXVILLE, November 10, 1861.
SIR: Information has been received that Mr. Hodgson, a member of the legislature, has been making a treasonable speech over in Sevier County. He is also suspected as having a knowledge, if not an instigator, of the burning of the bridges. He was here yesterday morning, and we would have arrested him, but he made his escape, and may probably try to get through your lines somewhere. He ought to be arrested. Five of the incendiaries who burned the Lick Creek Bridge have been arrested. …

Regretting as much as any one this calamity, I feel that I did all that I could to prevent it, and I am glad that it is no worse. I had a company at Lick Creek, but the incendiaries deceived them, and getting possession of their guns, took them prisoners and accomplished their ends. … What shall I do with the prisoners?
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Col. W. B. WOOD.

11 NOVEMBER 1861
Unionist uprising in Northeast Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, November 11, 1861.
General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General.
SIR: My fears expressed to you by letters and dispatches of 4th and 5th instant have been realized by the destruction of no less than five railroad bridges—two on the East Tennessee and Virginia road … The indications were apparent to me but I was powerless to avert it.

The whole country is now in a state of rebellion. A thousand men are within six miles of Strawberry Plains bridge and an attack is contemplated tomorrow. I have sent Colonel Powell there with 200 infantry, one company cavalry and about 100 citizens armed with shotguns and country rifles. …

An attack was made on Watauga [Carter’s Depot bridge] yesterday. Our men succeeded in beating them off, but they are gathering in larger force and may renew it in a day or two. They are not yet fully organized and have no subsistence to enable them to hold out long. A few regiments and vigorous means would have a powerful effect in putting it down. A mild or conciliating policy will do no good; they must be punished; and some of the leaders ought to be punished to the extent of the law. Nothing short of this will give quiet to the country.

… I have arrested six of the men who were engaged in burning the Lick Creek Bridge and I desire to have instruction from you as to the proper disposition of them. … I learn from two gentlemen just arrived that another camp is being formed about ten miles from here in Sevier County and already 300 are in camp. They are being re-enforced from Blount, Roane, Johnson, Greene, Carter and other counties.

I need not say that great alarm is felt by the few Southern men. They are finding places of safety for their families and would gladly enlist if we had arms to furnish them. I have had all the arms in this city seized and authorized Major Campbell to impress all he can find in the hands of union men who ought now to be regarded as avowed enemies …
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Post.

12 NOVEMBER 1861
Confederate reaction to Union rebellion
Governor Harris sends another 10,000 troops into Northeast Tennessee to disperse Union gatherings, disarm civilians, and arrest Unionist leaders.

20 NOVEMBER 1861
I sent a few men to arrest Andrew Johnson’s sons.
BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, November 20, 1861.
Lieutenant- Colonel MACKALL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Bowling Green, Ky.
SIR: I sent a few men up to Greeneville to arrest Andrew Johnson’s sons and son-in-law. … By this time I presume General [W. H.]Carroll is at Knoxville in command and instructed to make proper dispositions to guard the railroads and crush the tory combinations.

The recent burning of the bridges brought a crisis … but a small proportion of the population will now give countenance to hostile acts against the Confederate Government, and those who are still hostile are only running upon their own destruction. They should now be dealt very severely with. Leniency and forbearance have gradually won many thousands over who would have been driven to the enemy had our policy been severe two months ago, but those that are yet hostile can only be cured of their folly by severity. They should be made to feel in their persons and their property that their hostile attitude promises to them nothing but destruction.
Very respectfully,

20 NOVEMBER 1861
Col. William B. Wood announces to CSA Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin, the East Tennessee rebellion has been suppressed.

25 NOVEMBER 1861
CSA Secretary of War orders the captured bridge burners to be tried by drumhead court-martial, and hanged if found guilty.

30 NOVEMBER 1861
Lick Creek Bridge burners executed.
Henry Fry and Jacob Matthew Hinshaw are tried and found guilty of burning the Lick Creek Bridge. They are hanged the same day from a tree near the Greeneville Railroad Depot.

Bridge burners still being arrested
KNOXVILLE, December 5, 1861.
The following dispatch received this morning dated from Bird’s Point:
Captain Cocke just in with two bridge-burners and other prisoners. Have no news from Colonel Leadbetter. Colonel Powel reports by special messenger that he has seen no gathering. Will hold his position. Will throw my forces over the river in the morning and report. …
Cannonading and musketry at 8 o’clock. Tories [Unionists] have made a stand.
Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.

KNOXVILLE, December 7, 1861.
Captain Monsarrat has dispersed the tories in Cocke County and captured thirty of the ringleaders.
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Cocke County, Northeast Tennessee

Expedition into Northeast Tennessee
HEADQUARTERS, Greenville, Tenn.
General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General.
SIR: Hearing that the insurgents had gathered in force at or near the bend of Chucky River and thence to the neighborhood of Parrottsville and of Newport on the French Broad in Cocke County I moved the Twenty-ninth North Carolina … in that direction on the 3rd instant. Hearing that General Carroll had troops on the line of railroad at Morristown I arranged with them by telegraph to move into the enemy’s county at the same time and from opposite directions.

That country consists of a tumultuous mass of steep hills wooded to the top with execrable roads winding through the ravines and often occupying the beds of the water-courses. A few of the insurgent scouts were seen, pursued and fired on. One was desperately wounded and left at a cabin near by.

At the farm houses along the more open valleys no men were to be seen and it is believed that nearly the whole male population of the country were lurking in the hills on account of disaffection or fear. The women in some cases were greatly alarmed throwing themselves on the ground and wailing like savages. … The expedition lasted four days, and in the course of it we met Colonel Powel’s command deep in the mountains and our guns were responded to at no great distance by a force under Captain Monsarrat [USA].

These people cannot be caught in that manner. As likely to be more effective I have detached three companies of Colonel Vance’s regiment to Parrottsville with instructions to impress horses from Union men and be active in seizing troublesome men in all directions. They will impress provisions giving certificates therefor, with assurance that the amounts will be paid if the future loyalty of the sufferer shall justify the clemency of the Government. The whole country is given to understand that this course will be pursued until quiet shall be restored to these distracted counties, and they can rely upon it that no prisoner will be pardoned so long as any Union men shall remain in arms. …

It is believed that we are making progress toward pacification. The Union men are taking the oath in pretty large numbers and arms are beginning to be brought in. Captain McClellan of the Tennessee cavalry reports that Carter County is becoming very quiet and that with the aid of a company of infantry he will enter Johnson County and disarm the people there. I shall send the company without delay.

The execution of the bridge-burners is producing the happiest effect. This coupled with great kindness toward the inhabitants generally inclines them to quietude. Insurgents will continue for yet a while in the mountains but I trust that we have secured the outward obedience of the people.
Very respectfully, &c, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding.

10 DECEMBER 1861
KNOXVILLE, December 10, 1861.
The court-martial has sentenced A. C. Haun, bridge-burner, to be hung. … Ordered to be
executed at 12 o’clock to-morrow. …”WM. H. CARROLL,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

11 DECEMBER 1861
Bridge burner Alex Haun is hanged at a hastily-built gallows north of Knoxville.

13 DECEMBER 1861
Major-General CRITTENDEN, Richmond, Va.
SIR: In accordance with the verbal instructions communicated to you by the President you will proceed to Kentucky and assume command of all the forces now commanded by General Zollicoffer, including Carroll’s brigade and the different posts established by General Zollicoffer at Cumberland Gap and other mountain passes. You will report directly to General A. S. [Albert Sidney] Johnston by letter.

Unless otherwise ordered by General Johnston your command will not include Eastern Tennessee, Colonel Leadbetter having been specially assigned by the President [Jefferson Davis] to the duty of maintaining the communications through that district of country and ordered to assume the command of the troops necessary for guarding the line and dispersing the insurrectionists and bridge-burners; …

If by chance you shall, however, be thrown into command in any part of East Tennessee you will understand the policy of the Government to be to show no further clemency to rebels in arms. All actually engaged in bridge-burning should be tried summarily and executed if convicted by military authority. All others captured with arms or proven to have taken up arms against the Government are to be sent to Tuscaloosa [Alabama] as prisoners of war.

All such inhabitants as are known to have been in league with the traitors may be pardoned if they promptly deliver up their arms and take the oath of allegiance to this Government. In such event they are to be protected in their persons and property; otherwise they should be arrested wherever found and treated as prisoners of war, and especially should care be taken to allow none of them to remain armed. These are the instructions substantially that have been given to Colonel Leadbetter under which he has been acting.
Your obedient servant,
Secretary of War.

17 DECEMBER 1861
Jacob Harmon and his son Henry are hanged at Knoxville.

19 DECEMBER 1861
Description of the situation in East Tennessee in the autumn of 1861
Knoxville, Tenn., December 19, 1861.
Honorable D. M. CURRIN, Richmond, Va.
[David Maney Currin, Sr.(1817-1864) was a Tennessee attorney and politician who served in the Confederate States Congress during the American Civil War.]
I regret to trouble you with this communication, but feel myself called upon to do so by a sense of duty both to the Confederate Government and to the people of East Tennessee. … There are some very important facts connected with the recent political history of East Tennessee which apparently have not yet come to the knowledge of the Government or have been entirely overlooked, while others of less importance have been greatly exaggerated. To these I beg to call your attention.

In the beginning of the present contest between the North and South the attitude assumed by East Tennessee was a very doubtful one, and it was deemed best by those fully acquainted with the temper and sentiment of the people to pursue a conciliatory policy towards them. Mr. Davis himself, I believe, adopted this view of the case, and for a time pursued the mild course thus indicated. The result was a very great change in the public mind …

In September [1861] Major-General Polk sent General W. H. Carroll here for the purpose of endeavoring to bring the people over to the support of the Confederate Government and to enlist one or more regiments for the Army. General Carroll succeeded beyond his expectations, raising and organizing in a very short time a full regiment-coming mostly from those counties where in June the heaviest vote had been polled against the separation of Tennessee from the Federal Government.

This gratifying result I am satisfied is attributable almost entirely to the liberal and conciliatory policy of which I have spoken; but notwithstanding there were still left a few leading miscreants and a handful of ignorant and deluded followers who were wicked enough for the commission of any crime however detestable. By these and these alone were the bridges burned and other depredations committed while the mass of the people were entirely ignorant of their designs and utterly opposed to any such wickedness and folly.

The numbers engaged in these outrages have I know been greatly over-estimated as facts have been developed in the investigations that have been made by the court-martial now in session at this place which satisfy me beyond doubt that there were not at the time the bridges were burned 500 men in all East Tennessee who knew anything of it or who contemplated any organized opposition to the Government.

Scouting parties were sent out in every direction who arrested hundreds suspected of disloyalty and incarcerated them in prison until almost every jail in the eastern end of the State was filled with poor, ignorant and for the most part harmless men who had been guilty of no crime save that of lending a too credulous ear to the corrupt demagogues whose counsels have led them astray. Among those thus captured were a number of bridge-burners. These latter were tried and promptly executed.

About 400 or the poor victims of designing leaders have been sent to Tuscaloosa as prisoners of war leaving in many instances their families in a helpless and destitute condition. The greatest distress prevails throughout the entire country in consequence of the various arrests that have been made, together with the facts that the horses and the other property of the parties that have been arrested have been seized by the soldiers and in many cases appropriated to personal uses or wantonly destroyed.

Old political animosities and private grudges have been revived and bad men among our friends are availing themselves of the opportunity afforded them by bringing Southern men to hunt down with the ferocity of bloodhounds all those against whom they entertain any feeling of dislike. The wretched condition of these unfortunate people appeals to the sympathy and commiseration of every humane man.

Those best acquainted with affairs here are fully impressed with the belief that if the proper course were pursued all East Tennessee could be united in support of the Confederate Government. Strong appeals have been made from all sections to General Carroll to release those now in prison here and the return of those sent to Tuscaloosa; but under the instructions from the Secretary of War [Benjamin] by which he is governed he does not feel at liberty to do so. …
Respectfully, your friend,
CSA Assistant Adjutant-General
Staff of General W. H. Carroll in Knoxville.

1861 Civil War in Northeast Tennessee Timeline

Between the North Carolina line and the Cumberland Plateau is East Tennessee, which is entirely located within the Appalachians, a region with densely forested mountains and broad river valleys. The Tennessee Valley begins in the upper headwater portions of the Holston River, the Watauga River, and the Doe River in Northeast Tennessee with the headwaters of the French Broad and Pigeon rivers, all of which join where the French Broad and the Holston Rivers meet to form the Tennessee River in Knoxville. 

Northeast Tennessee voters say no to a secession convention.

1 MAY 1861
Pro-Confederate meeting in Greene County
On 1 May 1861, a newspaper ad calls for a pro-Confederate meeting requesting that  “the friends of their homes and their firesides… to come en masse… to attend a meeting that we may unite as one man in Greene county, to resist the coercive war policy of Lincoln.”
The secessionists who wrote the ad call for the pro-Confederate population to band together, illustrating that Northeast Tennessee contains a substantial number of secessionists, arguing that “Tennesseans will never be subjugated! No, never! never!!”
Northeast Tennessee is home to the smallest numbers of secessionists, yet both Sullivan and Washington Counties—in the northernmost tip of the area—have sizeable secessionist populations. In the secessionist referendum, Sullivan County votes more than 70% and Washington County 40% in favor of secession. The Nashville Union and American newspaper writes that the Unionists have caused others in the region to “refuse to assist with their sympathies, their purse and their arms.”

7 MAY 1861
Tennessee forms an alliance with the Confederate States of America.

May 7, 1861
Tensions Between Secessionist and Union Supporters Lead to Knoxville Riot, Shiloh National Military Park, accessed 14 November 2021,

25 MAY 1861
Murder will out
Publication of William G. Brownlow’s editorial in the Knoxville Whig, “Murder will out.”
William G. Brownlow is publisher of the pro-Union newspaper, the Knoxville Whig. He is called ‘Parson Brownlow’ because in previous years he was a circuit-riding preacher. He uses his paper to attack Confederate authorities in Northeast Tennessee. Many of his editorials come straight from his wildly vivid imagination.
In the 25 May edition of the Whig, Brownlow states that he has heard a rumor that he and several other steadfast supporters of the Union—[Andrew] Johnson, Thomas A. R. Nelson, [John] Baxter, [Oliver P.] Temple, [Connally Findlay] Trigg, [Horace] Maynard, George W. Bridges—are to be arrested after the election in June by a military force and taken in irons to Montgomery and either punished for treason or held as hostages to guarantee the quiet surrender of the Union men of East Tennessee. …
The thousands of Union men of East Tennessee devoted to principle and to the rights and liberties of those who fall at the hands of these conspirators will be expected to avenge their wrongs. Let the railroad on which Union citizens of East Tennessee are conveyed to Montgomery in irons be eternally and hopelessly destroyed. …
If we are incarcerated at Montgomery or executed there or even elsewhere all the consolation we want is to know that our partisan friends have visited upon our persecutors, certain secession leaders, a most horrible vengeance. Let it be done, East Tennesseans, though the gates of hell be forced and the heavens be made to fall.
OR, Ser. II, Vol. 1, pp. 911-912.

30 MAY 1861
East Tennesseans are greatly troubled by their state government’s repeated attempts to join the Confederacy. They call for a meeting of delegates representing the twenty-eight counties of East Tennessee, hoping to find a way to keep East Tennessee in the Union. Thomas A. R. Nelson and other Unionist leaders canvass Northeast Tennessee, making speeches and trying to drum up support for the Union.

30 MAY 1861
East Tennessee Convention
On Thursday, 30 May 1861, a large number of delegates representing the people of the various sections of East Tennessee assembled at Knoxville, in pursuance of the following call: EAST TENNESSEE CONVENTION. The undersigned, a portion of the people of East Tennessee, disapproving the hasty and inconsiderate action of our Gen. Assembly, and sincerely desirous to do, in the midst of the troubles which surround us, what will be best for our country and for all classes of our citizens, respectfully appoint a convention to be held in Knoxville on Thursday, the 30th of May, instant; and we urge every county in East Tennessee to send delegates to this convention, that the conservative element of our whole section may be represented and that wise, prudent, and judicious counsels may prevail, looking to peace and harmony among ourselves:
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 148-149

Senator Andrew Johnson delivers a speech against secession on 4 June 1861 at this place, the Scott County Court House in Huntsville, Tennessee.

Rumor had it that [Parson] Brownlow and [Andrew] Johnson were marked for the slaughter, and so seriously was it regarded that the Parson made a special effort to have Johnson warned of his danger. He sent one of his sons to rescue the East Tennessee Senator from a trap, and shortly thereafter … the Union leaders, concluding that Johnson was in danger as long as he remained in Tennessee, spirited him out by way of the Cumberland Gap.
~ Excerpt from William G. Brownlow Fighting Parson of the Southern Highlands
By E. Merton Coulter, The University of Tennessee Press / Knoxville, p. 156

31 MAY 1861
Resolutions of the East Tennessee Unionist Convention in Temperance Hall in Knoxville
1. That the evils which now afflict our beloved country, in our opinion, are the legitimate offspring of the ruinous and heretical doctrine of secession; that the people of East Tennessee have ever been, and we believe still are, opposed to it by a very large majority.

2. That while the country is now upon the very threshold of a most ruinous and desolating civil war, it may with truth be said, and we protect before God, that the people (so far as we can see) have done nothing to produce it.

3. That the people of Tennessee … in February last, decided … that the relations of the State toward the Federal Government should not be changed; thereby expressing their preference for the Union and Constitution under which they had lived prosperously and happily …

4. That in view of so decided an expression of the will of the people … on whose authority all free governments are founded … we have contemplated with peculiar emotions the pertinacity with which those in authority have labored to override the judgment of the people and to bring about the very result which the people themselves had so overwhelmingly condemned.

5. That the Legislative Assembly is but the creature of the constitution of the State and has no power to pass any law … in their recent legislation the Gen. Assembly have … transcended their legitimate powers and we invoke the people … to visit that hastily, inconsiderate, and unconstitutional legislation with a decided rebuke by voting on the 8th day of next month [June] against both the act of secession and of union with the Confederate States.

6. That the Legislature of the State, without having first obtained the consent of the people, had no authority to enter into a military league with the Confederate States …

7. That the forming of such military league … has afforded the pretext for raising, arming, and equipping a large military force, the expense of which must be enormous and will have to be paid by the people; and to do this the taxes … will necessarily have to be very greatly increased and probably to an extent beyond the ability of the people to pay.

8. That the Gen. Assembly, by passing a law authorizing the volunteers [soldiers] to vote wherever they may be on the day of election, whether in or out of the State … have … stretched their authority to an extent not within their constitutional limits …

9. That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

10. … and in the spirit of freemen, with an anxious desire to avoid the waste of the blood and the treasure of our State, we appeal to the people of Tennessee while it is yet in their power to come up in the majesty of their strength and restore Tennessee to her true position.

11. We shall await with the utmost anxiety the decision of the people of Tennessee on the 8th day of next month …

12. For the promotion of the peace and harmony of the people of East Tennessee it is deemed expedient that this convention should again assemble. …

Resolved, That when this convention adjourns it adjourns to meet again at such time and place as the president, or vice-president in his absence, may determine …

Resolved, That the proceedings of this convention be published in the Knoxville Whig, Jonesborough Express, Kingston Journal, and the Louisville (Kentucky) Journal, and that 5,000 copies of the proceedings be published by the Knoxville Whig for general circulation among the people.

[Previous] Governor [Andrew] Johnson then continued his remarks. He spoke about three hours and commanded the earnest attention of the convention throughout his entire speech.
At the close of his remarks, on motion, the convention adjourned subject to the call of the president.
T. A. R. NELSON, President.
JNO. [John] M. FLEMING, Secretary.
Official Records, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 153-156

8 JUNE 1861
Although nearly two-thirds of East Tennesseans reject secession and remain sympathetic to the Union, the majority of Tennessee voters opt to secede from the Union. Tennessee joins the Confederacy.

Brownlow defends Unionists
In the weeks following Tennessee’s secession on 8 June 1861, Brownlow uses the Whig to defend Unionists accused of treasonous acts by Confederate authorities.

17-20 JUNE 1861
Greeneville session of the East Tennessee Convention
After Tennessee secedes, the East Tennessee Convention delegates convene for a three-day meeting on 17 June 1861 at Greeneville. They create the East Tennessee Petition which requests the Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville to allow East Tennessee to form a separate state and remain in the Union. The legislature rejects their petition.

20 JUNE 1861
East Tennessee Unionist resolutions to secede from Tennessee and remain in the Union
KNOXVILLE, TENN., June 20, 1861.
The undersigned memorialists, in behalf of the people of East Tennessee, beg leave respectfully to show that at a convention of delegates held at Greeneville on the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th days of June …

First. That we do earnestly desire the restoration of peace to our whole country, and most especially that our own section of the State of Tennessee shall not be involved in civil war.”

Second. That the action of the State Legislature in passing the so called ‘declaration of independence’ and in forming the ‘military league’ with the Confederate States and in adopting other acts looking to a separation of Tennessee from the Government of the United States, is unconstitutional and illegal, and therefore not binding upon us as loyal citizens.”

Third. … That in order to avert a conflict with our brethren in other parts of the State … we do therefore constitute and appoint O[liver] P. Temple of Knox [County]; John Netherland of Hawkins, and James P. McDowell of Greene, commissioners, whose duty it shall be to prepare a memorial [the Greeneville Petition] and cause the same to be presented to the Gen. Assembly of Tennessee, now in session, asking its consent that the counties composing East Tennessee … may form and erect a separate State.” …

In that election the people of East Tennessee [8 June 1861], by a majority of nearly 20,000 votes, decided to adhere to the Federal Union … while the rest of the State is reported to have decided by a majority … to leave the Federal Union and to join the body politic recently formed under name of the Confederate States of America. …

It has occurred to the undersigned … that your body should take immediate action in the premises by giving a formal assent to the proposed separation …O[liver] P. TEMPLE.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. I, pp. 178-179.

The 19th Tennessee Infantry and other Confederate troops guard the Tennessee border to deter Unionists from crossing the mountains and joining the Union army at Camp Dick Robinson in southeastern Kentucky.

28 JUNE 1861
From Sam Tate, President of the Memphis to Charleston Railroad
To Robert Toombs, Confederate Secretary of State
June 28, 1861, Chattanooga
Honorable Robert Toombs Richmond:
I came through East Tennessee yesterday. Saw some of our friends but many more of our enemies. There is truly great disaffection with those people. … They openly proclaim that if the Legislature refuses to let them [i.e., East Tennessee] secede [from the state] they will resist to the death and call upon Lincoln for aid. [Thomas A. R.] Nelson, [Parson] Brownlow, and [Horace] Maynard are the leaders. If they were out of the way we would be rid of all trouble. That they will give us trouble I doubt not unless they are promptly dealt with. They rely on aid from Southeastern Kentucky and Lincoln. … Governor Harris has ordered one regiment to the various passes on our northern border, but the people here say they are not sufficient. …
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 52, pt. II, p. 116

9 JULY 1861
No time to be lost …
Major General Leonidas Polk, C. S . Army, telegraphs to Richmond authorities:
NASHVILLE, July 9, 1861.
President DAVIS:
No time is to be lost in East Tennessee. I examined the case thoroughly. There are 2,000 men of various arms now there. I think at least 10,000 ought to be there and at once. … I would strongly recommend making a department of East Tennessee and … the appointment of General F. K. Zollicoffer, of the Tennessee army, to its command as a brigadier of the Provisional Army. Governor Harris concurs in this earnestly.

26 JULY 1861
Confederate occupation of Northeast Tennessee
On 26 July 1861, Governor Isham HARRIS appoints CSA Gen. Felix ZOLLICOFFER—former Nashville newspaper editor and U.S. Congressman from Tennessee (1853–1859)—to command the District of East Tennessee and to “preserve peace, protect the railroad, and repel invasion.”
Harris orders Zollicoffer and 4,000 raw recruits to Knoxville to be in position to suppress any resistance to secession. The region thus comes under Confederate control from that day until September 1863, more than two years away. 

4 AUGUST 1861 – OCTOBER 17, 1862
Confederates arrest U.S. Congressman Thomas A. R. Nelson

8 AUGUST 1861
Confederate Act Respecting Alien Enemies
On this day, Confederate States Congress passes an ‘Act Respecting Alien Enemies’ which states:
“Immediately after the passage of this act, the President of the Confederate States shall … require all citizens of the United States, being males of fourteen years and upwards, within the Confederate States and adhering to the Government of the United States … to depart from the Confederate States within forty days … and such persons remaining within the Confederate States after that time shall become liable to be treated as alien enemies. … Alien residents within the Confederate States … who shall not be chargeable with actual hostility or other crime against the public safety, shall be allowed the time for the disposition of their effects and for departure.”
“The Daily Dispatch: August 9, 1861,” Perseus Digital Library, accessed 27 February 2021,

In his paper, Parson Brownlow sometimes suggests that the Unionists of Confederate-occupied Northeast Tennessee to resist the enemy. After President Davis’ issues the Confederate Act Respecting Alien Enemies, Brownlow urges Unionists to ignore the order and remain in their homes.

15 AUGUST 1861
Department of the Cumberland
The states of Kentucky and Tennessee are included in the Federal Department of the Cumberland.

7 SEPTEMBER 1861: Kentucky stays with the Union
With Kentucky no longer neutral, the entire northern boundary of Tennessee becomes exposed to possible invasion. CSA Gen. Felix Zollicoffer promptly advances his forces to Cumberland Gap, where Tennessee and Kentucky meet.

First Occupation of Cumberland Gap
In an effort to prevent a Union Army advance into Northeast Tennessee, CSA Gen. Felix Zollicoffer takes the initiative and marches his troops to Cumberland Gap, a vital passage through the mountains where Northeast Tennessee meets southeastern Kentucky. He easily overcomes the local Home Guard, occupies the Gap, and builds fortifications to strengthen his position. The rugged terrain in and around the Gap offers little sustenance. The greatest threat to soldiers manning the various forts on the hills overlooking the Gap is hunger.

Gen. Zollicoffer sends a force through Cumberland Gap along the Wilderness Road to drive the Union Army from Barbourville KY.

Gen. Zollicoffer announces that the safety of Tennessee depends on the occupation of the Cumberland Gap and refuses to leave.

Eight hundred of Zollicoffer’s men under Colonel Joel Battle ambush the Union force of about 150 home guards while they are foraging and pushed them out of Barbourville at the minor Battle of Barbourville KY.

CSA Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston calls upon Tennessee for 30000 men.

Last pro-Union newspaper in the South
By the autumn of 1861, Brownlow’s Whig is the last pro-Union newspaper in the South. He is quoted as saying, “I will fight secessionists until hell freezes over and then fight them on the ice.”

<30 SEPTEMBER 1861 – 9 NOVEMBER 1861 >
Burning railroad bridges in Northeast Tennessee
Before the war, the East Tennessee and Virginia (ET&VA) Railroad was the primary means of transportation in Northeast Tennessee, for passengers and freight. Now the ET&VA is vital to the Confederacy because it connects Virginia with the Deep South without going around the bulk of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Union leaders also recognize the railroad’s importance.

Shortly after the General Assembly rejects the Greeneville Petition, Rev. Wm. Blount Carter of Elizabethton devises a plan to undermine Confederate authority in Northeast Tennessee. On 30 September 1861 he travels to Camp Dick Robinson in southeastern Kentucky. He meets with Gen. George H. Thomas and reveals his plan to burn four wooden railway bridges on the East Tennessee and Virginia [ET&VA] Railroad:

The bridges to be burned from northeast to southwest are:

  • the bridge over the Holston River at the town of Zollicoffer (now Bluff City)
  • the bridge over the Watauga River at Carter’s Depot (now the town of Watauga)
  • the bridge over Lick Creek, near the town of Mosheim in Greene County
  • another bridge over the Holston River at Strawberry Plains, northeast of Knoxville

Wm. Blount Carter travels to Washington DC to meet with President Abraham Lincoln, who is pressured almost daily by Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson and Congressman Horace Maynard to provide aid to East Tennessee’s Unionists. The president agrees with the plan. Carter returns to Camp Dick Robinson to begin setting his plan in motion.

8 OCTOBER 1861
USA Gen. William T Sherman assumes command of the Department of the Cumberland, which includes the state of Tennessee. His headquarters is in Louisville KY.

26 OCTOBER 1861
Last issue of the Knoxville Whig
This issue of the Whig must necessarily be the last for some time to come … The Confederate authorities have determined upon my arrest and I am to be indicted before the grand jury of the Confederate court … in Nashville. … I have the fact of my indictment and consequent arrest having been agreed upon for this week from distinguished citizens, legislators, and lawyers at Nashville of both parties. …

I presume I could go free by taking the oath these authorities are administering to other Union men; but my settled purpose is not to do any such thing. I can doubtless be allowed my personal liberty by entering into bonds to keep the peace and to demean myself toward the leaders of secession in Knoxville who have been seeking to have me assassinated all summer and fall.

I expect to go to jail and I am ready to start upon one moment’s warning. … I am prepared to lie in solitary confinement until I waste away because of imprisonment or die from old age. … The real object of my … imprisonment is to dry up, break down, silence and destroy the last and only Union paper left in the eleven seceded States and thereby to keep from the people of East Tennessee the facts which are daily transpiring in the country. I shall in no degree feel humbled by being cast into prison whenever it is the will and pleasure of this august Government to put me there; but on the contrary I shall feel proud of my confinement. … I am proud of my position and of my principles. …

Exchanging with proud satisfaction the editorial chair and the sweet endearments of home, a cell in the prison, or the lot of an exile,
I have the honor to be,
Editor of the Knoxville Whig.
“Union Rebellion in East Tennessee,” War of the Rebellion, Serial 114, pp. 0912-0914, accessed 25 March 2021, The Ohio State University, accessed 30 November 2021

Bridge Burners selected
Gen. Thomas sends Captain David Fry, whose home is in Greeneville, Northeast Tennessee, to aid Carter with the bridge burning operation; Carter assigns him to burn the Lick Creek bridge. Daniel Stover, son-in-law of Senator Andrew Johnson, is chosen to burn the two bridges in the far northeast corner at Zollicoffer and Carter’s Depot. For the Strawberry Plains bridge, former Sevier County sheriff William C. Pickens is selected. Each of these men then recruit reliable Unionists to assist them in burning the bridges. Since all are sworn to secrecy, the names of many of these operatives are still unknown.

While Carter recruits arsonists, Gen. Thomas’ Union forces at Camp Dick Robinson prepare to march south into Northeast Tennessee. However, Gen. Sherman begins to worry that the supply line to keep Thomas’ troops fed and moving will be stretched too thin.

31 OCTOBER 1861
Gen. Thomas and his Union troops arrive at Crab Orchard, Kentucky, approximately forty miles from Cumberland Gap. While Thomas keeps moving south, Sherman worries as the supply line gets longer.

Brownlow leaves Knoxville
On 4 November 1861, Parson Brownlow decides to skip is arrest and confinement by Confederate authorities. He leaves Knoxville and goes into hiding in the Great Smoky Mountains, where there is a strong pro-Union presence. There he remains for several weeks staying with friends in Wears Valley and Tuckaleechee Cove.

Tuckaleechee Cove
Area where Parson Brownlow hid out in November 1861

Sherman calls off the Union invasion
Gen. Thomas pleads with Sherman to authorize his movement into Northeast Tennessee. Sherman calls off the invasion on 7 November, too late to get word to the bridge burners.

Burning the railroad bridges of Northeast Tennessee
The bridge burners proceed with their plans on the night of 8 November, still believing that the Union Army is coming to protect them.. When Daniel Stover and his helpers reach the bridge over the Watauga River at Carter’s Depot, they discover that it is guarded by a company of Confederate cavalry. The arsonists are no match for trained soldiers on horseback; they abandon that operation and move on to the town of Zollicoffer and burn the bridge there.

Captain David Fry finds that the Lick Creek bridge is guarded by several sentries, but they are easily overpowered. After the bridge is set afire, Fry must decide what to do with the guards. They plead for their lives, and he lets them go.

At the Strawberry Plains bridge, Pickens and his crew encounter a single Confederate guard, James Keelan. When Pickens attempts to fire the bridge, Keelan attacks him. In the ensuing melee, both Keelan and Pickens are badly wounded. Keelan eventually flees, but Pickens has lost the group’s box of matches in the darkness. Unable to light a fire, they abort their mission and return to Sevier County.

Confederate reaction to bridge burnings
News of the bridge burnings shocks Confederate authorities in Northeast Tennessee. The government in Richmond is flooded with exaggerated reports of Unionist activity in the region. CSA Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin issues an order:

All such as can be identified in having been engaged in bridge-burning are to be tried summarily by drumhead court-martial and, if found guilty, executed on the spot by hanging in the vicinity of the burned bridges. All such as have not been engaged are to be treated as prisoners of war and are to be transported and held as such.

Confederates arrest Northeast Tennessee Unionists
Gen. Zollicoffer, who has been somewhat lenient, rounds up and jails dozens of known Unionists, bridge burners or not. So do other commanders in the area. Among the detained Unionists are several Lick Creek bridge burners, who have been identified by the Confederate sentries they allowed  to go free.

Imprisoned at Tuscaloosa
Following Benjamin’s order, Unionists not directly involved in burning the railroad bridges are imprisoned in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Several die there. More than 150 people are arrested and jailed on suspicion of supporting the bridge burnings or inciting other acts of violence.

Southerners suspect Brownlow
Confederate authorities immediately suspect [William] Parson Brownlow of engineering the bridge burnings. In an editorial in his newspaper, he writes, “let the railroad on which Union citizens of East Tennessee are conveyed to Montgomery in irons be eternally and hopelessly destroyed,” and he goes into hiding in Blount County a few days before the bridge burning. 

Northeast Tennessee Unionists rise up!
As dawn breaks, hundreds of Unionists armed with shotguns and rifles gather to seize key positions along the ET&VA while waiting for the arrival of the Union army from Kentucky.

A Union force is now assembling
BRISTOL, November 9, 1861.
Hon. JOHN LETCHER [Governor of Virginia].
DEAR SIR: Upon the oath of J. H. Rudd, conductor of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Company, and news received from A. M. Millard, the representative of Sullivan County, Tenn., by note … I do hereby inform you that the bridge across the Holston [at Zollicoffer] was burned last night by about fifty Union men and that a Union force is now assembling near Watauga bridge [Carter’s Depot] reported to number about 500 for the purpose of attacking Capt. McClellan’s troops now stationed at the bridge … and ask aid as we are unable to form any idea of the result of this; and furthermore state that all communication between this place and Nashville by railroad and telegraph is cut off and ask that you appeal to President Davis to call out the militia of East Tennessee to suppress rebellion.
Justice of the peace,
Washington County, Va.

By nightfall on 9 November, more than 1,500 men have gathered at Nathaniel Taylor’s farm near Elizabethton, Carter County, Northeast Tennessee. The men are anxious to rout Capt. David McClellan’s Rebel Cavalry, who had prevented them from burning the bridge there the previous night.

Sabine Hill
At Nathaniel Taylor’s Farm, where Unionists assemble
Taylor’s father and namesake, Gen. Nathaniel Taylor, built this two-story Federal style house after returning home from the War of 1812. It is now restored and open to the public as part of Sycamore Shoals State Park. 

The Carter County Rebellion

We have received the particulars of the skirmish near Carter’s Station last Sunday night. In consequence of private intelligence received at Bristol of the doings of the Union men in East Tennessee, Capt. MILLER picked up a party of 22 young men, accompanied by Mr. J.R. HOWARD as a volunteer, and started from Bristol by the railroad on Sunday evening [10 November] at 6 o’clock. They sent lanterns ahead of the train and found the track torn up between Watauga and the Union Station [ZOLLICOFFER] bridge, but the damage was soon repaired, and they passed over safely.

Arriving at Carter’s Station, they stopped and threw out pickets, and about midnight the scouting party under Capt. MILLER started to explore the country. They had proceeded some three and a half miles through Carter County, Tennessee, when they were met by a pretty heavy fire from rifles and shot guns, which was promptly returned, and the skirmish was kept up with spirit for half an hour.

The Lincolnites were some three hundred strong, and constituted the advance of a body of eight hundred, stationed in Elizabethton, the mountain stronghold of the traitors. We may state here that these men expected a reinforcement of 500 men from Watauga County, North Carolina — a disaffected region adjoining Johnson County, Tennessee. In the fight the enemy were driven out of the woods, nine killed and five taken prisoners. The remainder retreated, and our scouts returned toward their camp. Capt. .MILLER received a charge of buckshot through his coat, and two of his men were slightly wounded. The prisoners were taken to the cavalry camp at Carter’s Station.

LYNCHBURG, VA, Wednesday, Nov. 13.
The following dispatch was received here this morning from the President of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad:
The Union men have a camp of from a thousand to thirteen hundred men near the North Carolina line, and about 20 miles from Bristol. They also have another of about seven hundred men near Strawberry Plains. Their forces are increasing at both these places, and they threaten to take possession of the railroad and burn all the bridges.

16 NOVEMBER 1861.
Wm. Blount Carter reports to Gen. George H. Thomas USA at Camp Dick Robinson the outcome of his bridge burning operation.

20 NOVEMBER 1861
Col. W. B. Wood informs CSA Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin that the East Tennessee rebellion will soon come to an end.
HEADQUARTERS, Knoxville, November 20, 1861.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.
SIR: The rebellion in East Tennessee has been put down in some of the counties and will be effectually suppressed in less than two weeks in all the counties. Their camp in Sevier and Hamilton Counties have been broken up and a large number of them made prisoners. Some are confined in jail at this place and others sent to Nashville. …

I have been here at this station for three months, half the time in command of the post, and I have had a good opportunity of learning the feeling pervading this country. It is hostile to the Confederate Government. They will take the oath of allegiance with no intention to observe it. …

The prisoners we have tell us that they had every assurance that the [Union] army was already in the State and would join them in a very few days; that the property of Southern men was to be confiscated and divided amongst those who would take up arms for Lincoln. …
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. B. WOOD, Col., Cmdg. Post.

… to the Union people, it was full of terror, suffering and woe.
This quote from Oliver P. Temple’s East Tennessee and the Civil War tells you about the atmosphere in East Tennessee after the bridge burnings and the Unionist uprising, better than I could ever hope to say:

The excitement and fear continued … At the very time the Confederates were in the wildest state of excitement … the Union men … were hiding, or seeking safety in the hills and mountains, or secretly fleeing to Kentucky. The reported uprising was greatly exaggerated, and in some cases imaginary … There were not one hundred men in all East Tennessee, well armed, nor two thousand even half armed, nor ammunition for a half hour’s fight. It might be easily suspected that the incident of the bridge burning was used as a pretext for arresting, disarming and imprisoning Union men. …

Violent wrath and apprehension seized the Confederate army. Confederate citizens were thrown into a panic. The storm of anger naturally burst on the heads of Union men, and all were suspected. Arrests were made until the prisons overflowed. The poor, frightened Union men fled terror-stricken to such places of safety as they could find. … Strange that those in authority did not see, could not see, that it was better to let these determined, these lion-hearted people alone in their quiet pursuits and secluded homes than to force them into active hostility.

If there were those, at the time the bridges were burned, who thought that their destruction was a good thing for the loyal people of East Tennessee, surely they must have been convinced of its folly during the long, sad, dismal months that followed. With the wild excitement and the blind panic which everywhere filled the minds of the Confederate people, there soon came to the Union people an overwhelming sense of insecurity.

For the first time, they began to realize fully that they were among enemies, who counted the success of the new government above all things else—above kinship, above old friendship, above the most sacred ties hitherto uniting them. This sense of personal insecurity … extended to every Union fireside in East Tennessee. There was not a man so high, nor one so noble, but felt that he was liable to be accused, seized and thrust into prison at any moment.

All of the bridge burners brought to trial are from the group who burned the Lick Creek Bridge in Greene County. Among those captured are:
Hugh Self is only sixteen years old; he is released to his father.
Harrison Self’s daughter sends a telegram to President Davis, begging for her father’s life. Davis sends a last-minute pardon, and Self is not hanged. He will spend the balance of the war in prison.

Five men are sent to trial.
Henry Fry
Jacob ‘Matt’ Hinshaw
C. Alexander ‘Alex’ Haun
Jacob Harmon
Henry Harmon

Pro-Union attorneys John Baxter and Oliver Perry Temple provide legal defense, though they realize the accused stand little chance of acquittal.

30 NOVEMBER 1861
Henry Fry and Matt Hinshaw
Found guilty of bridge burning and sentenced to death.
Hanged near the railroad depot at Greeneville, Northeast Tennessee. 

10 DECEMBER 1861
Alex Haun
Imprisoned in Knoxville.
Condemned to die for the crime of bridge burning.
Hanged at a gallows north of Knoxville.

11 DECEMBER 1861
Martial law declared in Knoxville.
The exigencies of the time requiring, as is believed, the adoption of the sternest measures of military policy, the commanding general feels called upon to suspend for a time the functions of the civil tribunals:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, William H. Carroll, brigadier-general in the Confederate Army, and commander of the post at Knoxville, do hereby proclaim martial law to exist in the City of Knoxville and the surrounding country to the distance of 1 mile from the corporate limits of said City.
By order of Brig. Gen. William H. Carroll.
OR, Ser. I, Vol. 7, p. 761.

17 DECEMBER 1861
Jacob Harmon and his son Henry
Convicted and received the death penalty.
Hanged at Knoxville. 

Daniel Stover, who burned the bridge at Zollicoffer, escaped but suffered health problems from hiding out in the Northeast Tennessee mountains in November. He died at a very young age.

For a timeline of all Northeast Tennessee bridges targeted, please read
Northeast Tennessee Railway Bridges Timeline.

17 DECEMBER 1861
‘Incendiarism in Hawkins County.’
A friend at Whitesburg writes us:
Last night Mr. James Headerick’s and Mr. Bernard Headerick’s barns and cabins were both burned by incendiaries. They both live about one mile south of St. Clair, Hawkins County. They are good Southern men and good citizens, and this destruction of their barns and cabins leaves them without one blade of [illegible] to feed their stock. When will we get rid of these treasonable incendiaries?
~ Knoxville Register.

28 DECEMBER 1861
[Received War Department, 28 December 1861.]
President DAVIS:
SIR: At the request of many of our most reliable friends in East Tennessee I have come to Richmond to lay before you a faithful account of East Tennessee matters.
It is the opinion of the best informed and most reliable men in East Tennessee that all the Confederate troops now employed in guarding the railroads and suppressing rebellion in East Tennessee except one regiment might be safely sent to other points where troops are really needed,
and that if proper measures were immediately adopted to bring back to their families all innocent men who have been carried or frightened away from their homes it would restore peace and a sense of security to the people,
and put an end to all appearances of disloyalty to the Confederate Government in East Tennessee; and I believe that the wrongs they have suffered if properly explained and promptly relieved will afford an occasion for a striking display of the justice, wisdom and power of the Confederate Government,
which will do more to insure the fidelity of the people of East Tennessee than all the severity of punishment advised by the violent partisans of that section who have provoked the prejudices of the people against themselves and consequently against the Government of which they were supposed to be the true exponents.
Respectfully, &c.,

Thomas A. R. Nelson

Thomas Amos Rogers Nelson (1812-1873) is an attorney and politician in Northeast Tennessee during the American Civil War era. He represents the 1st Congressional District in the 36th U.S. Congress (1859–1861), where he gains a reputation as a Southern Unionist—white Southerners living in the Confederate States who are opposed to secession. 

During the 1860-1861 secession crisis, T. A. R. Nelson canvasses the region, giving dozens of speeches, trying to keep East Tennessee in the Union. He also serves as president of both meetings of East Tennessee Convention; the first session met in Knoxville on 30 May 1861; the second in Greeneville on 17 June 1861. The Unionists petition the Tennessee General Assembly, asking that East Tennessee be allowed to form its own state and remain in the Union. The legislature denies their request.

25 MARCH 1861: A Meeting with the President
Northeast Tennessee Congressman Thomas A. R. NELSON writes about a meeting he has with President Abraham Lincoln: “[I] had it from his own lips … that he was for peace, and would use every exertion in his power to maintain it …. He expressed a strong hope that, after a little time is allowed for reflection, [the Confederate states] will secede from the position they have taken …. [I was] well pleased with the President’s frankness.” 


4 AUGUST 1861: Congressman Thomas A. R. Nelson arrested by Confederates
During the secession crisis of 1860-61, Northeast Tennessee Unionist Thomas Amos Rogers Nelson actively campaigns to keep Tennessee in the Union. Even after Tennessee joins the Confederacy on 8 June 1861, voters in Nelson’s district reelect him as a Unionist [the name used by a coalition of Republicans, northern Democrats and anti-Confederate Southern Democrats] to the U.S. Congress in 1861. On his way to Washington DC to take his seat, Nelson is arrested and carried to Richmond VA as a prisoner.

United States Congressman from Tennessee Thomas A. R. Nelson


6 AUGUST 1861: Arrest of prominent East Tennessee Unionist Thomas A. R. Nelson
Knoxville, August 6, 1861.
Adjt. Gen. S. COOPER, Richmond, Va.
SIR: Thomas A. R. Nelson, with an escort of three men, supposed to be on his way to take his seat in the Federal Congress at Washington, was arrested about midnight night before last in Lee County, Virginia, by a company of Home Guards of that county. He was brought to a camp under my command at Cumberland Gap, and was from there sent, under a guard of 60 men, to Abingdon, VA. The knowledge of the event has apparently produced much excitement among Nelson’s adherents here, giving rise to menacing language. … F. K. ZOLLICOFFER, Brig.-Gen.

Published in the New York Times, 31 August 1861
The Knoxville Whig, of the 24th, contains the promised address of Hon. THOMAS A.R. NELSON to the people of East Tennessee. It occupies two columns of the Whig. After stating the causes which led to his light, the mode of his arrest, the reasons for his Unionism, with which the reader is already familiar, he says:
While on the way to Richmond, I had some conversation with a portion of the Tennessee delegation to the Southern Congress, and during my stay there was visited by various members of Congress and other public men connected with the Southern Confederacy. The intense solicitude which was expressed, especially by the most prominent and distinguished of the original Secessionists, who, without any request on my part, volunteered their kind offices with generous liberality, in regard to the conciliation of the people of East Tennessee, and the unusual kindness and consideration with which I was treated as a prisoner, convinced me that I was in error in supposing that the military power would be exerted for any other purpose than that of retaining the Railroad and of resisting aggressive acts on our part. Acting under this changed conviction, believing that, if I were retained as a prisoner, or punished with death, under any strained construction of the treason laws, my friends in East Tennessee would in either event retaliate by arresting public men of the opposite party here; that this would lead to counter arrests, and that the horrors of civil war would immediately exist among us, I felt that it was due to you and to myself that I should obtain my release as soon as possible, on the best, terms I could effect without dishonor; and, after various informal propositions and consultations, I finally addressed to President DAVIS the following letter.

12 AUGUST 1861: T. A. R. Nelson petitions Jefferson Davis for his release and the release of his son from prison
RICHMOND, Aug. 12, 1861.
To His Excellency Jeff. Davis, President of the Confederate States.
SIR: I have been arrested, and, as I learned since my arrival in this city, upon the charge of treason, but whether against the State of Tennessee or the Confederate State, I am not advised. I am conscious of no act, either against the State or the Confederacy, that will support or sustain such an accusation. I am sincerely anxious to preserve the peace and quiet of East Tennessee, the section of the State in which I reside, as best promotion of the peace and interest of the entire State.
I ask to be discharged from a vexatious prosecution, that I may return home peacefully, to follow my private interests and pursuits, assuring your Excellency that I will not, either directly or indirectly, by counsel, advice or action encourage aid or assist the United States Government to invade or attain success in the present struggle with the Confederate States, nor will I counsel or advise others to thwart or cripple the Confederate States in the pending contest with the United States, nor will I do so by my own acts.
In view of the increased majority in the election which has just taken place in Tennessee, I shall feel it my duty, as a citizen of that State, to submit to her late action, and shall religiously abstain from any further words or acts of condemnation or opposition to her Government.
The parties arrested with me, with the exception of my son, who acted by my command, were mere guides and conductors through the mountain passes, on my way to my place of destination, and whatever view may be taken of my own course, they are innocent; in no way responsible, legally or morally, and have committed no offence against the laws of the Confederacy or the State of Tennessee, and I ask that they also be discharged from custody by Your Excellency.
Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

13 AUGUST 1861: President Jefferson Davis orders Nelson’s release after he agrees not to oppose the Confederate government.
RICHMOND, Aug. 13, 1861.
SIR: I have received your letter of the 12th inst., in which you ask to be discharged from arrest and prosecution, and make promise that you will, as a citizen of Tennessee, submit to her late action, and religiously abstain from any further words or acts of condemnation whatever, or opposition to her Government.
The desire of this Government being to maintain the dependence it has asserted by the united feeling and action of all its citizens, it has been its policy not to enter into questions of differences of political opinions heretofore existing.
I am, therefore, pleased to be spared the necessity of inquiring whether the accusation against you be well founded or not, vexatious or not, and to rest content with your submission as a loyal citizen of your State to her recent action in adhering to this Confederacy and adopting its permanent Constitution by an increased majority. I have ordered your discharge and that of your companions from custody.
I am, &c.,

President of the Confederate States of America Jefferson Davis

17 AUGUST 1861: Nelson returns to his home in Jonesborough and resumes his law practice.
Since my return home, I am content with my own course in the promises. But whether it was right or wrong, wise or unwise, I feel bound, as an honorable man, to act up to the spirit and letter of the obligation I assumed. I shall offer no plea of duress, because neither the Southern Confederacy nor any earthly power could have compelled me to make an agreement that my judgment and conscience did not approve in the situation in which I was placed.
No terms or conditions, expressed or implied, public or private, attended my release other than those plainly expressed in the two above-quoted; but I have thought it due to our past relations and the painful solicitude many of you have felt in my behalf, that I should thus briefly address you.
While I did not promise allegiance or active support to the Southern Confederacy … I feel perfectly free to say that the failure of the Government of the United States for four long months to sustain us in our position; its apparent inability to do so … within any reasonable time; … the mutual hatred which has grown up between the antagonist sections of the Union, … as well as other causes, have painfully impressed my own mind with the belief that, unless some wonderful and improbable change is effected, our beloved Union is gone forever, and it is our policy and duty to submit to a result which, however we may deplore it, seems to be inevitable.
Aware that my advice as well as my motives may be liable to misconstruction, I would still most respectfully recommend to my friends the propriety of abstaining from all further opposition or resistance to the Confederate authorities, … although I have no authority to speak for them, I am satisfied that no military power will be exerted among us, except such as may be indispensably necessary to retain military possession of East Tennessee. And to those of our citizens who have gone beyond the limits of the State … I think I can safely say, without arrogance, that from the course which was adopted towards me, they would risk nothing returning to the State …
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 17, 1861.

I found no evidence that Mr. Nelson ever attempts to take his seat in the U.S. Congress again.

26 AUGUST 1861: Official Confederate correspondence relative to East Tennessee Unionist T. A. R. Nelson’s expected public support for the Confederacy
KNOXVILLE, TENN., August 26, 1861.
Hon. A. T. BLEDSOE, Bureau of War, Richmond, Va.
DEAR SIR: I have with others labored hard and with some success to allay the spirit of disaffection in this region … I stopped at Jonesborough one day to confer with Col. T. A. R. Nelson and through him to learn what the Unionists design, and the result of a long interview has strongly impressed me with the belief that he will not only abstain from doing anything hostile to the Confederacy but that in due time … he will come out openly for the Southern cause and he has given me aid already in getting up volunteers.
At my instance Union leaders now here from different counties are to-night engaged in preparing an address … and advising their friends in Kentucky and elsewhere to return to their homes and submit to “the powers that be.” I propose publishing a handbill containing a sort appeal to my friends and relatives … this indorsement of it by his friends and Gen. Zollicoffer’s general order holding out the olive branch. This may lead to such mutual confidence that both sides may deem their rifles useless here …
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
A. M. LEA, Brigade Commissary.


4 OCTOBER 1862: Confederate authorities attempt to insure loyalty of East Tennesseans with indorsement of T. A. R. Nelson and Nelson’s “Address to the People of East Tennessee.”
Knoxville, Tenn., October 4, 1862.
SIR: An address to the people of East Tennessee, by Thomas A. R. Nelson, will appear in the Knoxville Register to-morrow. I desire that you copy it in your paper, which I presume you will do without any request from me, and give it a wide circulation; and I shall be pleased if you will give it a complimentary editorial notice in a way that will be agreeable to Mr. Nelson and calculated to encourage others to follow his example. This is no time to permit party feelings to drive from our support any who are able to serve our cause by bringing about a more loyal and better feeling in East Tennessee. Of course I do not want my name to appear in connection with it.
Very respectfully,
Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

4 OCTOBER 1862: Meet CSA Gen. SAM. JONES
Knoxville, Tenn., October 4, 1862.
Hon. GEORGE W. RANDOLPH, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: After being a few days in command here … I became satisfied that much good might result to our cause by putting myself in communication with … the most influential Union men. Without knowing any of them personally I selected Hon. Thomas A. R. Nelson … and invited him to meet me here. … he came very promptly, and after a private interview he, on my suggestion, wrote and placed in my hands, to be used as I thought proper, an address to the people of East Tennessee. …
I will have it published and widely circulated and hope it will be productive of good. I expect in a day or two to converse with a few other influential men whom I have invited to meet me, and I hope they may be brought to see the propriety of following Mr. Nelson’s example. I believe there are Southern men in East Tennessee … who have heretofore been strong Union men should change their course and come out in support of the Government. …
I regret to believe that much hostility and treachery exists in this department. I have a detachment out now in an adjoining county to kill, capture, or disperse a party of some 200 or 300 armed men collected together in the mountains to join the enemy in Kentucky; and I hear there are other such bands. …
I have received no instructions from you and am not informed as to the policy … I should pursue. I send with this a short proclamation to the people of East Tennessee. They … will indicate somewhat of the policy I propose to pursue, and I have respectfully to ask that you will submit them to the President and inform me if they meet his approval.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

3 OCTOBER 1862: Address of Hon. T. A. R. Nelson to the People of East Tennessee.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., October 3, 1862.
In all the speeches which I made to you in the spring and summer of 1861, as well as in a printed address to the people of the State on or about May 30, 1861, I declared in substance that if I had believed it was the object of the North to subjugate the South and to emancipate our slaves in violation of the Constitution, I would have gone as far as the farthest in advocating resistance to the utmost extent. My attention has just been called to a proclamation issued by the President of the United States on 22 September 1862 [Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation], in which he declares that—
“On the 1st day of January, A. D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State, or any designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be thenceforward and forever free, and the executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they make for their actual freedom.”
I need scarcely remind you that one of the evils which I dreaded and predicted as the results of which were made to dissolve the Union was, that in the progress of war they might open the way for servile insurrection and the overthrow of the institution of slavery. My opinions as to the unconstitutionally and impolicy of secession remain unchanged …  
The paramount causes which have controlled and influenced my conduct and opinions were love for the Union and an unshaken confidence that we had the best Constitution and Government in the world; but of all the acts of despotism of which the civil war in which we are now engaged has been the prolific source there is not one which in the slightest degree equals the atrocity and barbarism of Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation. At one blow it deprives all the citizens of the slave States without distinction of the right to hold slaves, a right guaranteed by the very Constitution he pretends to uphold. …
We are in the midst of a sea of difficulties. Many acts have been done in the South to which we were bitterly opposed as a people, and which we who have adhered to the Union in spite of perils and dangers could not justify or palliate; but the Union men of East Tennessee are not now and never were Abolitionists. …
I am aware, my countrymen, that you will find difficulties in bringing your minds to the same conclusion at which my own has arrived. Many wanton and unauthorized acts of cruelty and oppression have been perpetrated among you, which, instead of changing your opinions, have only been calculated to aggravate and intensify a heroic principle of endurance.
Many of these acts have been committed in remote places, without the knowledge or approbation of the authorities at Richmond or of those who have held the supreme command in East Tennessee, and under such circumstances that you have felt it dangerous to complain. …
Gradually and slowly these outrages have at last become known, and in the very recent proclamation issued by Maj.-Gen. Jones you have the assurance that your complaints will be heard and the most energetic measures adopted to remedy the evils to which you have been subjected. Let not then a sense of private and present wrongs blind you against the enormities already perpetrated and still more seriously contemplated by Mr. Lincoln’s administration. …
But if, through fear or any other cause, Mr. Lincoln’s infamous proclamation is sustained, then we have no Union to hope for, no Constitution to struggle for, no magnificent and unbroken heritage to maintain, no peace to expect, save such as with the blessing of Providence we may conquer. The armies which have been sent near you to tantalize you with hope have been withdrawn, and with cool audacity Mr. Lincoln virtually tells you that you have no rights. No alternative remains but to choose the destiny which an arrogant and unprincipled administration forces upon us.
It is almost unnecessary to declare to you that I adhered to the Union amidst good report and evil report, suffering and danger, while it was in my power to support it, and that, when my efforts were paralyzed and my voice silenced by causes beyond my control, I have cherished the hope that all might yet be well; but “the last link is broken” that bound me to a Government for which my ancestors fought, and what ever may be the course of others, I shall feel it my duty to encourage the most persevering and determined resistance against the tyrants and usurpers of the Federal administration, who have blasted our hopes and are cruelly seeking to destroy the last vestige of freedom among us. … He [Lincoln] has called armies into the field without authority, according to his own acknowledgment, and has become a military dictator.

17 OCTOBER 1862: Confederate authorities deny incarcerating T. A. R. Nelson’s son to force Nelson’s “Address To The People of Tennessee”
Knoxville, Tenn., October 17, 1862.
Hon. THOMAS. A. R. NELSON, Jonesborough, Tenn.
DEAR SIR: I regret to hear that some persons, incapable it seems of appreciating the manly and patriotic motives which prompted your address to the people of East Tennessee, have attributed it to a desire to procure thereby the release of your son. It is due to you that I should state that neither you nor any one else ever intimated to me that you desired the release of your son, nor did I intimate any promise of intention of releasing him. I took it for granted that you did desire it, but I had too just an appreciation of your character to suppose for one moment that your action on so important a matter would be influenced by that motive. I had heard that your son was young and indiscreet, and had committed the offense for which he was arrested in violation of your expressed wishes and while you were absent from home. I have released a number of prisoners besides your son, and I released him because I supposed that it would be gratifying to you, and because I judge that the boy would be more likely to become a loyal and useful citizen if brought within your influence than if left in prison with persons older and more culpable than himself. If you think the insinuations against your motives worthy of notice you are at liberty to make such use of this note as you may think proper.
Very respectfully and truly,
SAM. JONES, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

17 OCTOBER 1862:   
Knoxville, Tenn., October 17, 1862.
Hon. THOMAS A. R. NELSON, Jonesborough, Tenn.
DEAR SIR: … You may remember that I mentioned to you that I thought it highly probable that many people in East Tennessee would deny that President Lincoln had issued his proclamation of the 22nd ultimo and denounce it as a secession forgery unless some one in whom they had confidence would come forward and assure them it was genuine.
I am sorry to hear that many persons not only deny the authenticity of Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation but of your address also. They say the whole thing is a secession forgery, gotten up by the Knoxville Register.
I am convinced that your address has already been productive of much good, and I am equally well convinced that you can render far more effective service to the country and especially to the people of East Tennessee by going among them and addressing them in public meeting. It is of the first importance that the Union men should now come out and give cordial support to the Government. If the present opportunity is lost it is impossible to see what other can offer for bringing them to the support of the Government under which they now live. I know that other gentleman of influence are willing to join you and canvass East Tennessee, and I venture to urge you to lose no time, but enter on the work now.
I would not make the suggestion if I were not convinced of your earnest desire to promote the peace and harmony of East Tennessee now and for the future. I am satisfied that you and others can soon biting about such a state of feeling in this section of the country that the troops now in service in this particular section may with safety be withdrawn. The depredations so long and justly complained of will cease and that cause of imitation be removed. It is surely worth an effort to produce even that benefit to the community. I believe you can accomplish that and much more.
In haste, yours, very respectfully and truly,
SAM. JONES, Maj.-Gen., Cmdg.

I found no evidence that Mr. Nelson ever canvassed East Tennessee for the Confederacy. It appears that he remained quiet and out of the public eye for some time. I did find the following correspondence with Provost-Marshal of East Tennessee S. P. Carter at Knoxville concerning mistreatment of East Tennessee Unionists by Union troops. Please note Mr. Nelson’s address. After USA Gen. Ambrose Burnside occupied Knoxville in early September 1863, Mr. Nelson moved from his home in Jonesborough to Knox County, near Knoxville.

26 DECEMBER 1863: Unionist civilians in dire straits
December 26, 1863.
Brig. Gen. S. P. Carter:
SIR: Unable to reach home, I have been staying for the last ten days at the house of Maj. Gaines McMillan, who will hand you this note. He goes to Knoxville in the hope of procuring a guard for his property. Having always been a Union man, he cheerfully furnished to the army all the corn and other articles he could spare; but soldiers, in defiance of your safeguard, came and took all his oats; others threatened to break open his smoke-house and insulted his family in his absence, and were with great difficulty restrained by my persuasions and entreaties from forcibly taking his provisions.
He has been and is daily annoyed in every conceivable way without the power of resistance. I sincerely hope that you may devise some plan to relieve him from further vexation and loss. Although I … understand that you are not in command of the army of East Tennessee, I hope that, as a native of the country, you will exert your influence to mitigate the horrors of war among us.
Supposing that Governor Johnson and Mr. Maynard had in charge the interests of our people, I, in common with others, cherished the hope that they would use their influence with the President to cause the army to be instructed before they came here that they were about to enter the country of friends and not of enemies, and that, by their good conduct, they should make the contrast broad and deep between the behavior of the hostile Armies, and especially that as the Union population had suffered greatly from the rebels, they should be promptly paid for everything that might be taken by the Federals …
I suppose that the exertions … our members of Congress made have been unavailing, as the Union Army is more destructive to Union men than the rebel army ever was. Our fences are burned, our horses are taken, our people are stripped in many instances of the very last vestige of subsistence, our means to make a crop next year are being rapidly destroyed, and when the best Union men in the country make appeals to the soldiers, they are heartlessly cursed as rebels; or when certificates are given as to property taken, they are generally for much less than the true amount, and a citizen in attempting to enforce a claim against his Government has to run the gauntlet of “the circumlocution office,” until, discouraged and disheartened, he turns away, feeling that the Government which he loved and honored and trusted, and which never did him any harm before the war, has at last become cruel and unjust, and cares nothing for his sorrows and sufferings.
In many instances soldiers take property without giving any certificates, and the result is a fearful and alarming state of robbery and plunder. Can you do nothing to remedy these evils? Can you not, in behalf of an outraged and disappointed people, urge Gen. [John G.] Foster [then in command of East Tennessee] to hold all officers to the strictest accountability for the conduct of their soldiers and compel them to listen to and redress the wrongs of the people?
If nothing is done and promptly done, starvation and ruin are before us, and there will be nothing here to support the army next summer. Let me urge you, as you love East Tennessee, and as you would preserve the Union party from ruin, to exert a prompt and energetic influence on the whole subject.
Very respectfully,

26 DECEMBER 1863: Gen. Carter requests aid for Unionists
Knoxville, December 26, 1863.
Brig. Gen. E. E. POTTER, Chief of Staff:
GEN.: I have the honor to forward, for information of the commanding general, a letter this day received from Hon. Thomas A. R. Nelson, in relation to the conduct of United States troops toward loyal citizens of East Tennessee. In doing so I respectfully renew my request that the most stringent measures be adopted to put an immediate check to acts which are alike unjust to our citizens and discreditable to the United States service.
I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,
S. P. Carter,
Brig. Gen. and Provost-Marshal-Gen. of East Tennessee.


“Confederate Policy of Repression in East Tennessee,” War of the Rebellion, Serial 114 Page 0823, Official Records of the Civil War, accessed 21 February 2021,

“Union Rebellion in East Tennessee,” War of the Rebellion, 1861, Serial 114 Page 0825, Official Records of the Civil War, accessed 21 February 2021,

“Prisoners of War, etc.,” War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0826, accessed 21 February 2021,

A Tennessee Unionist Arrested,” New York Times, 31 August 1861, accessed 27 February 2021,

Battle of Big Creek Gap

8 MARCH 1862
Col. James P.T. Carter USA and his troops are ordered on 8 March 1862 to proceed to Big Creek Gap, Tennessee and capture or disperse the Confederate forces that are blockading roads and molesting the Unionist civilians. Col. Carter is the youngest of the Carter clan from Elizabethton—brother of bridge burner W.B. Carter and brigadier general Samuel P. Carter, who is also serving in Northeast Tennessee.

10 MARCH 1862
On the morning of 10 March 1862, Col. Carter leaves with his command, which consists of the First East Tennessee Regiment, the Second East Tennessee Regiment, a detachment of the First Kentucky Cavalry, and Company B of the Forty-ninth Indiana Regiment led by Lt. Col. James Keigwin.

Big Creek Gap: Natural Opening
The road in front of you winds through Big Creek Gap, one of the few natural openings through the Cumberland Mountains in the region. During the Civil War, this corridor was much narrower and steeper, and even lightly loaded wagons found travel extremely hazardous. Cumberland Gap, one the main migration route[s] from the eastern states to the west and a strategic gateway during the Civil War, is about thirty miles northeast of here.

Early in the conflict, Confederate military engineers ringed Cumberland Gap with defensive works and considered the pass impregnable from the north and east. East Tennessee citizens who supported the Union alerted Federal commanders to the possibility of flanking the fortifications via Big Creep Gap. After a rigorous march, a detachment of Union soldiers, including a company of Campbell County men under Capt. Joseph A. Cooper, first penetrated the narrow passage here in March 1862 and routed the Confederate cavalry posted nearby. A more substantial offensive effort under U.S. Gen. George W. Morgan occurred in June, producing a bloodless Confederate withdrawal from Cumberland Gap. Subsequently, control of the Gap changed hands several times.

Across the highway, on a small knoll above and the right of the old rock quarry, are remnants of the earthworks that defended Big Creek Gap. They are the only know[n] Civil War-era fortifications in Campbell County. In the summer of 1861, the 19th Tennessee Infantry (CS) and other units stood watch here to guard the state border and prevent local men from joining the Union army in Kentucky. Rifle pits, gun emplacements, and ammunition dumps by soldiers from both are still extant.
(upper right) “Drawing Artillery Across the Mountains,” Harper’s Weekly, Nov. 21, 1863.
(lower right) Gen. Joseph A. Cooper Courtesy and USA Gen. George W. Morgan, Leslie’s Illustrated History.
 Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Location. Marker is in LaFollette, Tennessee, in Campbell County at the intersection of North Tennessee Avenue and North Indiana Avenue (U.S. 25W)

13 MARCH 1862
Carter and his soldiers arrive at the foot of the north side of the Cumberland Mountains at 6 o’clock pm and learn that two companies of the Confederate First Tennessee Regiment Cavalry are encamped at Big Creek Gap. With the road completely blocked, Col. Carter sends the Union cavalry unit around another road. Carter and his men set off again at 9 o’clock pm, planning to meet on the other side of the mountain, about nine miles away. They are troubled during their march by the total darkness of the night and the necessity of walking single file through the narrow passageways in the mountains.

14 MARCH 1862
At about 6 o’clock am, after an intense skirmish of about 15 minutes, the Carter’s troops completely rout the Southerners, capturing dozens of horses and mules, and several wagons. Because of the poor visibility and bad roads, the cavalry did not arrive until after the skirmish.

Report of Big Creek Gap: Col. James P. T. Carter
GEN.: In obedience to your order of the 8th instant to proceed to Big Creek Gap and Jacksborough, Campbell County, Tennessee, and capture or rout the rebel forces which were reported to be in that vicinity blockading roads and molesting the persons and property of Union citizens, I left with my command on the morning of the 10th instant [‘instant’ means the 10th day in the current month], accompanied by Lieut. Col. James Keigwin, of the Forty-ninth Indiana Volunteers, and marched to Big Creek Gap via Boston.

My force consisted of the Second East Tennessee Regt. Company A, of the First East Tennessee Regt., Capt. Cooper; Company B, of the Forty-Ninth Indiana Regt., Capt. Thompson, and a detachment of Lieut. Col. Munday’s First Battalion Kentucky Cavalry. We arrived at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, on the north side, on the 13th instant, at 6 o’clock p. m. I then learned that two companies of the First Tennessee Regt. rebel cavalry were encamped at Big Creek Gap.

Finding the road completely blockaded, I detached the cavalry, and sent them around by another road, with orders to meet the main body of the command at a certain point on the opposite side of the mountain. Procuring the services of a guide, I divided my command, placing one portion under charge of Lieut.-Col. Keigwin. We took up the line of march at 9 o’clock p. m., intending to meet at a point on the opposite side of the mountain about daybreak. The distance we had to march was about 9 miles, yet so difficult was the ascent of the mountain that it was only by the superhuman exertions, as it were, of the men that the march was made. The men, however, bore it patiently, and moved on “eager for the fray.”

Having to pass through narrow ways in single file, and the night being very dark, a portion of the infantry got lost, and did not arrive in time to take part in the skirmish. About 1,300 of the infantry came upon the camps of the rebels, under command of Lieut. Col. John F. White, at about 6 o’clock a.m. of the 14th instant, and after a sharp skirmish of about five minutes the rebels were completely routed. The rebel loss was 5 men killed, 15 wounded, and 15 taken prisoners, among whom were Lieut.-Col. White and Lieut. Hoyl. We captured 86 horses (27 killed), 7 mules, and several wagons, a large amount of camp and garrison equipage, a quantity of powder, and a large amount of quartermaster and commissary stores-a sufficient amount of the latter to supply the command during their stay.

It being impossible to bring off the quartermaster stores I caused them to be burned and the powder destroyed. Owing to the darkness of the night and the impassability of the roads the cavalry did not arrive till after the skirmish. Had the troops been able to get up in time I am satisfied that we could have succeeded in capturing the whole force. On the arrival of the cavalry we marched to Jacksborough, distance 5 miles, and there overtook the rear guard of the cavalry; killed 1 man and captured Capt. Edward Winston, of the Corps of Sappers and Miners. We hoisted the Stars and Stripes over the town, and on the 15th instant marched to Fincastle, and from thence to Woodson’s Gap, where we encamped a few days.

Learning that there was a manufactory of saltpeter in the neighborhood, I sent a detachment of cavalry with orders to destroy the same. They destroyed about 1,000 pounds of saltpeter, broke up the kettles, burned up the shed, and destroyed about 11,000 pounds of bacon and 20 sacks of flour. Our loss was 1 wounded-Lieut. Myers, Company H, Second East Tennessee Volunteers. His wound, however, is not dangerous.

Officers and men behaved admirably, and proved that they are ready and willing at all times to meet the rebels. The people through the section of country over which we passed are truly loyal in their sentiments and hailed the advent of our troops with unbounded enthusiasm. Everything they had was freely tendered to us. We found forage and provisions abundant on the route after we left Boston.

The position we had at Woodson’s Gap was a very strong one, and could have been held against a large force, and had we been permitted to remain we would no doubt have had an opportunity of meeting the forces at Cumberland Gap which had been sent out to attack us, but on the 19th instant I received an order from you to report at headquarters with my command at the earliest possible moment. I accordingly took up the line of march for this place on the 20th instant, and arrived here on the 23rd instant without the loss of a single man.
Your obedient servant,
JAS. P. T. Carter,
Colonel, Second East Tennessee Volunteers. 
Later Acting Brigadier-General, Comdg., Twelfth Brigade.

Big Creek Gap, Northeast Tennessee

Report of Big Creek Gap: Gen. E. Kirby Smith, C. S. Army,
Knoxville, March 15, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that the enemy, having passed the Cumberland Mountains, yesterday surprised and captured, without the fire of a gun, I believe, the larger number of two companies of the First East Tennessee Cavalry near Jacksborough. Their force consisted of a regiment of infantry.

Couriers who arrived last night bring the intelligence that they are moving in this direction. I have ordered forward to Clinton two Alabama regiments, the Third Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, a battalion of North Carolina Volunteers, a section (two pieces) Third Maryland Artillery, and a portion First East Tennessee Cavalry (an aggregate of 2,000 men), the whole under the command of Colonel D. Leadbetter, who had received such instructions from me as I thought necessary for the exigency.

From what I have learned of the character of the troops from East Tennessee in our service, of their strong Union proclivities, greatly increased by their near relationship to and from intimate association with many citizens who have fled the country and espoused the Federal cause, I am satisfied the capture near Jacksborough was the result of treachery. Pickets detailed from them cannot be relied on, and even officers are not free from suspicion of more fidelity to the Federal than to out service.

It is not an individual opinion that some of the regiments from this section are disloyal, but it is the conviction of many of our friends, who know the public sentiment prevailing in those counties in which they were raised and the strong personal ties which would influence them to become so. There is a want among them of that confidence in the loyalty of each other which would make them faithful in the discharge of their duty to their fellow soldiers and to the country, and this is aggravated, too, by the opinion, which exists to some extent, that East Tennessee cannot be defended by the force we have in the field, and must be abandoned upon the advance of the Federal Army.

I cannot, therefore, too strongly urge upon the Department the propriety, if not the necessity, of removing these troops to some other point, where they cannot prove traitors, either by purchase or from love to the Federal Government, and where, if they do not make efficient soldiers, they cannot be tampered with by the enemy. If this be done, and their numerical strength be supplied by troops from other States, I am persuaded it would in every respect be to the advantage of the service.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding.

USA Col. James P. T. Carter claims victory for his brave soldiers and the pro-Union sentiment in the surrounding area.

CSA Gen. E. Kirby Smith thinks the Union victory is the result of treachery.

Conflict in Campbell County: War in the Mountains
The Civil War in Campbell County was often personal. Few residents owned slaves, and a large majority – 1,094 to 60 – voted against secession in June 1861. Local men formed what became Co. A and Co. B, 1st Tennessee Infantry (US), at the courthouse in Jacksboro on August 1-2, 1861. Despite the strong Unionist sentiment, Confederate forces occupied the rugged mountain region later that year to secure several strategic gaps and to block any large Federal advance from Kentucky.

Confederate control did not last long. In March 1862, Union forces won an engagement at Jacksboro, raised the United States flag at the courthouse, and then marched north to destroy a saltpeter operation near here. The Federals noted that “the people…are truly loyal in their sentiments and hailed the advent of our troops with unbounded enthusiasm.” The expedition destroyed 1,000 pounds of saltpeter (essential to the manufacture of gunpowder), numerous kettles, 11,000 pounds of bacon, 20 sacks of flour, and a shed.

Travel through the mountains was challenging and dangerous. One night in April 1863, William Sloan carried dispatches from Kentucky to Confederates near Jacksboro. He confided to his diary, “the darkness was at times so pitchy that it gave me the sensation of passing through a tunnel, or dark underground passage; but of course there was some light else my horse could not have found his way, but such light was not discernible to my senses. Altogether it was the most dismal ride I ever took in my life, to say nothing of being uncomfortable.”
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails. Location. 
Marker is near Jellico, Tennessee, in Campbell County on Indian Mountain State Park Circle in Indian Mountain State Park.

15 MARCH 1862
The Federals raise the United States flag over Jacksborough and march to Fincastle, and from there to Woodson’s Gap, where they camp for a few days. Col. Carter soon receives an order to report to headquarters with his command as early as possible.

For a short period of time the entire area of Big Creek Gap and Jacksborough are involved in the Civil War.

“BIG CREEK GAP AND JACKSBOROUGH, TENN.,” War of the Rebellion, Serial 010, Page 0019-0021, Chapter XXII, The Ohio University, accessed 9 November 2021,

“Operations in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Mississippi, North Alabama, and Southwest Virginia. March 4-June 10, 1862,” Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Chapter XXII, accessed 7 November 2021,

Dallas Bogan, “Union, Confederate Forces Faced Off Skirmishes At Big Creek Gap, Jacksborough,” History of Campbell County, accessed 8 April 2021,

Battle of Blue Springs

Burnside’s East Tennessee Campaign
Since his arrival in Knoxville on 3 September 1863,USA Gen. Ambrose BURNSIDE has been creating a plan to run the Confederates out of Northeast Tennessee. He sends Gen. Samuel Perry CARTER[brother of bridge burner W.B. Carter] and his cavalry to clear the roads and byways from Virginia. Not content to sit and wait for developments, Burnside personally leads a cavalry division and troops from Gen. Edward FERRERO’s infantry division to assist Carter.

Battles of Blue Springs
Fighting on the Same Ground Twice
On the morning of October 10, 1863, Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s campaign suddenly arrived at Blue Springs (present-day Mosheim) when Union cavalry attacked Confederate Gen. John S. Williams’s troops. By noon, the Confederate lines were stretched to the breaking point. At 5 P.M., Union infantrymen broke through the forward line of rifle pits, but heavy cannon and musket fire from the main Confederate positions drove them back. Three more assaults on the main Confederate line failed when Confederate Infantry and artillery fire shot them to pieces. After dark, the Confederates withdrew. The Federals pursued them in the morning, and later that day they met again in Rheatown. The tired Confederates escaped toward Jonesborough.
Union Gen. Alvan C. Gillem’s cavalry force marching from Bulls Gap met a small Confederate force on the same battlefield on August 23, 1864. The Federals engaged Confederate Col. Henry L. Giltner’s 4th Kentucky Cavalry pickets and drove them back two miles toward the ridge south of Greeneville Road, where they encountered more Confederate troops. Giltner’s men repulsed repeated Union attacks. Then William Brown, a local boy, pointed out a “by road” to Union Col. John K. Miller who used it to reposition his 13th Tennessee Cavalry. His next attack turned the Confederate left flank. A frontal assault then broke the Confederate line and resulted in “a running fight, which was closed by night two miles beyond Greeneville, the enemy halting and endeavoring several times to reform.” Gillem reported Union control of Greene County was again assured, for the time being.
Lloyd’s Official Map of the State of Tennessee, 1863 Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen. Alvan C. Gillem Courtesy Library of Congress
Gen John S. Williams Courtesy Library of Congress
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
W. Marker is in Mosheim, Tennessee, in Greene County.
At or near 6766 West Andrew Johnson Highway, Mosheim TN 37818.

3 OCTOBER 1863
CSA Gen. John WILLIAMS and his cavalry set out to disrupt Union communications, hoping to take t he town of Bull’s Gap on the East Tennessee & Virginia [ET&VA] Railroad. On 3 October, Williams encounters USA Gen. Samuel P. Carter’s Union Cavalry at Blue Springs, Greene County, Northeast Tennesseeabout nine miles from Bull’s Gap. Gen. Carter, unsure of the size of Williams’ force, withdraws.

4 OCTOBER 1863 Burnside’s troops at Knoxville travel by cars on the ET&VA Railroad to Bulls Gap, 56 miles away. It will take a few days to move that many men.

10 OCTOBER 1863: Battle of Blue Springs
10 o’clock a.m.
Burnside’s Union force—the 9th Army Corps with part of the XXIII Army Corps—meet the enemy at BLUE SPRINGS. They launch an attack at the Confederate center at 10 a.m., while cavalry under Col. John W. FOSTER [of Blountville fame] sweeps around Williams’ right flank. Capt. Orlando POE, the Chief Engineer, performs a reconnaissance to find the best place for an infantry attack.

5 o’clock p.m.
Burnside sends in Ferrero and his infantry at 5:00 p.m., breaking into the Confederate line, causing heavy casualties. The Federals order a charge and completely rout the Rebels.

The Confederates withdraw after dark.

The Federals take up the pursuit in the morning.

10 OCTOBER 1863: New York Times article
A Brilliant Action at Bull’s Gap
Knoxville, Tenn., Oct. 10, 1863
Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck. General-in-Chief, Washington:
On the 8th [of October] inst. The enemy held down as far as Blue Springs, and a cavalry brigade of ours held Bull’s Gap, supported by a small body of infantry at Morristown. I, accordingly, dispatched a brigade of cavalry around by Rogersville to intercept the enemy’s retreat, and with a considerable body of infantry and artillery moved to Bull’s Gap. On Saturday, the 10th inst., I advanced a cavalry brigade to Blue Springs, where they found the enemy strongly posted and offering a stubborn resistance. Skirmishing continued until about 5 o’clock, … when I sent in a division of infantry, who charged and cleared the woods, gallantly driving the enemy in confusion until dark.

During the night the enemy retreated precipitately, leaving their dead on the field and most of their wounded in our hands. We pursued in the morning with infantry and cavalry. The intercepting force met them at Henderson’s but owing to some misunderstanding, withdrew and allowed them to pass with only a slight check. The pursuit was continued until evening, when I withdrew most of my infantry and returned to this place. Gen. [James] Shackelford with his cavalry and a brigade of infantry continued the pursuit, the enemy making a stand at every important position; but he had driven them completely from the State, captured the fort at Zollicoffer, and burned the long railroad bridge at that place and five other bridges, and destroyed the locomotives and about thirty-five cars. His advance is now ten miles beyond Bristol.
Our loss at Blue Springs and in the pursuit was about 100 killed and wounded.
The enemy’s loss was considerably greater.
About 100 prisoners were taken.
A. E. Burnside, Major-General  
Published October 17, 1863


10 OCTOBER 1863: Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s description of the Battle of Blue Springs
I left Knoxville on the morning of the 9th [of October] and overtook our forces on the same day at Bull’s Gap. On the following morning the advance was ordered and at Blue Springs, midway between Bull’s Gap and Greeneville, the enemy were found, posted in heavy force and a strong position, between the wagon road and railroad to Greeneville. Our cavalry occupied him with skirmishing until late in the afternoon.

Colonel Foster’s brigade was sent around to the rear of the enemy, with instructions to establish himself on the line over which he would be obliged to retreat, at a point near Rheatown. It was not desirable to press he enemy until Colonel Foster had time to reach this point. I directed Captain Poe (my chief engineer) to make a reconnaissance of the enemy’s position, with a view to making the attack at the proper time.

The ground was selected upon which the attacking force was to be formed, and at half past 3 o’clock, believing sufficient time had been given to Colonel Foster to reach the desired point, I ordered General Potter to move up his command and endeavor to break through the center of the enemy’s line. By 5 p.m. he had formed General Ferrero’s division for the attack.

When the order to advance was given, this division moved forward in the most dashing manner, driving the enemy from his first line.
During the night he retreated and we pursued early in the morning, driving him again beyond the Watauga River, beyond which point our cavalry was directed to hold him. Col. Foster’s brigade, which had been sent to cut off his retreat, met with serious difficulties in way of rough roads, so that he did not reach the point on the enemy’s line of retreat in time to make the necessary preparations to check him until our pursuing forces came up. …
Late Major-General.

10 OCTOBER 1863: Action at Blue Springs
On the morning of the 10th, an advance was made toward Greeneville. The enemy was encountered, posted on the high ground east of Blue Springs, and between the Greeneville road and the ET&VA Railroad, and offered a stubborn resistance to our cavalry, holding them in check for some hours. …

The attack was gallantly made and was eminently successful, the enemy being driven entirely from his position in advance to that occupied by his reserves. It was now quite dark, and everything was prepared to dislodge him from the latter early in the morning, by which time Col. [John W.] Foster was expected to be in the main road east of Greeneville and directly in the enemy’s rear, a position he did reach before daybreak.

The enemy, having had information of this movement, retreated long before daylight from our front, and attacking Foster, succeeded in pushing him from their line of retreat and in making good their escape.
ORLANDO M. POE, Capt., U. S. Engrs.
Chief Engineer, Army of the Ohio.

Map of the Blue Springs battlefield, New York Herald newspaper, 27 October 1863


10 OCTOBER 1863: The fight at Blue Springs
GREENEVILLE, 10 October 1863.
Gen. SAM. JONES, Jonesborough:
We have had a very hard fight to-day, beginning at 10 a. m., and ceasing at dark. The line of skirmishers was 2 miles long, which so extended my lines that the enemy at 5 o’clock, with 2,000 infantry, broke my center and attacked the batteries. They were repulsed with great slaughter. I have no complete returns, but hope my loss will not exceed 100—several valuable officers. The enemy charged along the entire line from right to left, and only succeeded in center by the use of grape and canister. We hold our position. The enemy rests on his. The force is greater than I telegraphed on 8th.
Jno. S. WILLIAMS, Brig.-Gen.
[Jno. was a popular way of spelling ‘John.’ Who knows why?]

J. S. WILLIAMS, Greeneville:
I congratulate you on to-day’s fight. Have you any doubt of your ability to hold your position? Was the fight at Greeneville, or beyond that point? Has Col. Witcher joined you with his command?
SAM. JONES, Maj.-Gen.

Excerpt from the diary of Edward O. Guerrant.
The anticipated advance of the Enemy upon our position was made this morning about 10 O’C[lock]. From 10 A. M. until 5 P. M. the battle continued without any material advantage to either party, our object being only to hold our position against superior numbers & operate a diversion for Genl. [Robert] RANSOM, or rather now to save ourselves, now 75 miles from any base or support.

About 11 A. M. [John] Witcher (immortal Witcher) with his 34th Batt’n. (125 in no.) which came up on us this morning with their old, torn battle flag, fresh from the fields of Maryland & Pennsylvania, made a charge & drove the Enemy. Col. Carter commanded the right wing (1st. Tenn, 16th Ga. Peters Regt & Witcher’s Batt’n  about 800 in number) & Col. H. L. GILTNER commanded our left wing (4th Ky. 10th. Ky. & Mays Regt-about 900 in no) along the ridge we had two howitzers in one battery, two parrot guns in another and Schoolfield’s four little guns in another.

During the day the artillery fought several duels. Sometimes shelled the woods. Shells from the Enemy’s guns struck in front of our battery & ricocheted immediately over it. Other struck the trees by it. (I allude to Loyd’s guns where the General & staff took position.) I have a Minnie ball that struck in [front] of me-another passed between Capt. Jenkins (who heard our cannon at Rheatown 18 miles [away] & camp up about 4 P. M. ) & me.

About 5 P. M. furious assault by 1000 or 1500 infantry, with artillery throwing canister was made upon Mays Regt. commanded by Lt. Col. Ed. TRIMBLE which consisted of not more than 150 or 200 men. After a most gallant resistance, in which fell several of our brave Kentucky boys, this gallant handful of men were compelled to give way, but only to fall back by the flank upon Col. Giltner Regt. about 200 yards. Mays Regt constituted our centre – being on Col. Giltner’s right.

They were driven from the heavily timbered woods where we had out Head Quarters a few days ago. Thus the Enemy had broken our line & separated Col. Carter & Col. Giltner. But both wings held their position, their rear being protected by a farm of open fields commanded by our artillery. But the enemy emboldened by his success in driving back a handful of men had the temerity to attempt a flank movement upon Col. Carter by advancing through these open fields.

The column consisted of some 1000 or 1500 Infantry (some of the Michiganders) and advanced from the woods in splendid style into the open fields and were opened upon by our artillery which sent them heeling it back in style neither so imposing nor splendid. They heeled it to the cover of the woods, & did not attempt another such movement. The fight continued from this until night without any other marked change in our position, the Enemy holding the timber in our centre but unable to use it to advantage. During the day they attempted a flank movement upon both of our flanks, but were checkmated.

Thus ended the Battle of Blue Springs fought on Saturday 10th. Oct. 1863 in Greene County, 2 1/2 miles from Blue Springs & 7 1/2 miles from Greenville. Federal forces, estimated at 5000 commanded by Maj. Genl. Burnside. Confederate forces 1700, commanded by Brig. Genl. Jno. S. Williams.
~ Diary of Edward O. Guerrant, Confederate staff officer.


11 OCTOBER 1863: Skirmish at Henderson’s Mill
Report of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the Ohio.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., October 17, 1863-10 p. m.
On Saturday, the 10th, advanced a cavalry brigade to Blue Springs, where they found the enemy strongly posted and offering a stubborn resistance. Skirmishing continued till the arrival of the infantry, about 5 p. m., when I sent in a division of infantry, who charged and cleared the woods gallantly, and drove the enemy in confusion till dark. During the night the enemy retreated precipitately, leaving their dead on the field and most of their wounded in our hands. We pursued in the morning with infantry with infantry and cavalry. The intercepting force met them at Henderson’s [Mill] but, owing to some misunderstanding, withdrew and allowed them to pass with only a slight check. The pursuit was continued until evening …
A. E. BURNSIDE, Maj.-Gen.


11 OCTOBER 1863: Skirmish at Henderson’s Mill
A Confederate staff officer’s account of the skirmish at Henderson’s Mill
When several miles beyond Greenville on the road to Jonesboro’ Gen. Alfred E. JACKSON’s advance (Genl. Jackson Brigade of 500) constituted our advance Guard, was fired upon just at daylight. It was within two miles of Henderson’s mill-where we were going to Camp, and I was going to the front by order of Genl. Williams to halt the column there. The beautiful morning star, harbinger of coming day, was shining like a diadem on the brow of night – & we were peacefully, tho’ regretfully pursuing our way – when all at once a volley of musketry into the head of the column woke up to the feast of death.

One of Genl. Jackson’s Staff was captured & perhaps a few of his men killed. It was too dark to see more than 100 yards in the heavy timber in which the Enemy were concealed. I had just reached Genl. Jackson who was again advancing his column of infantry to drive them from the woods – supposing they were East Tennessee Bushwhackers  – when a furious volley was again poured into us from behind the trees not 75 yards in front. To prevent being shot from my horse, as Yankees generally shoot too high, I dismounted in an instant, but soon found myself left alone in the road under a heavy fire, all the others having sought the generous protection of the neighboring trees. My horse was wild with excitement – so that I could not mount him until Rufus Todd held him for me.

As soon as our men got shelter, they opened briskly upon the Enemy, & soon our artillery came up & shelled the woods. It was not yet good light. Genl. Williams immediately coming up ordered Jackson forward with Thomas’ Legion (Infantry) and Carter to charge with his brigade of Cavalry. The boys went in with a shout charging gallantly, driving the Yankees from one position to another. The General was in the front cheering the men onward – as he appreciated the critical position in which we were placed.

The Enemy confidently expecting us to remain at Blue Springs, had thrown a heavy cavalry force under Col [James E.] Carter (4 reg’ts of 2500 men – the same who went to Bristol and burnt Blountville,) in our rear to hold us in check until the forces on the other side could come up; therefore we must fight out or be captured: “horse, foot & dragoon,” artillery & transportation, & all.

Our men I say went in gallantly drove the Enemy back, & only once gave up any ground & then a batt’n of Mounted men were driven from the woods, but were soon rallied – (the Genl. assisting) & returned to the fight. The Enemy used their artillery at first, but when we once got them started, they never got time to unlimber again. The fight lasted until about 71/2 [7:30] A.M. & ended by the flight of the Enemy before the impetuous charges of our boys, who never stopped but kept on, never giving the Yankees time to rally & form.

We drove them some three miles when they left the main road at double quick taking a road to the left towards Kingsport, leaving our way open to pursue our falling back. So we were delivered from a Yankee trap.

Thank God for the gallantry of our troops! The losses we sustained I cannot determine. … Our boys were very much elated with their success, & the way the Yankees “skedaddled.” Thus ended the battle of Henderson’s Mill – fought between Greenville & Rheatown, Tenn. On the morning of Sunday the 11th.
~ Diary of Edward O. Guerrant.


11 OCTOBER 1863: Skirmish at Rheatown
Report of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside,
U. S. Army, commanding Department of the Ohio.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., October 17, 1863 10 p. m. On the following morning the advance was ordered and at Blue Springs, midway between Bull’s Gap and Greeneville the enemy were found, posted in heavy force and a strong position, between the wagon road and railroad to Greeneville. Our cavalry occupied him with skirmishing until late in the afternoon. Col. [John W.] Foster’s brigade was sent around to the rear of the enemy, with instructions to establish himself on the line over which he would be obliged to retreat, at a point near Rheatown. It was not desirable to press the enemy until Col. Foster had time to reach this point. I directed Capt. Poe (my chief engineer) to make a reconnaissance of the enemy’s position, with a view to making the attack at the proper time. The ground was selected upon which the attacking force was to be formed, and at half past 3 o’clock, believing sufficient time had been given to Col. Foster to reach the desired point, I ordered Gen. Potter to move up his command and endeavor to break through the center of the enemy’s line. By 5 p. m. he had formed Gen. Ferrero’s division for the attack. When the order to advance was given, this division moved forward in the most dashing manner, driving the enemy from his first line.
A. E. BURNSIDE, Maj.-Gen.

The town of Rheatown, Tennessee


11 OCTOBER 1863: Battle of Rheatown
Excerpt from the Report of Brigadier-General John S. Williams.
C. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Brigade.
Relating to the skirmish at Rheatown. We moved on to Rheatown, where, by some misunderstanding of orders, the artillery took the wrong road, and some time was consumed in getting it back. While waiting for its return the enemy again made his appearance, which, in the absence of our artillery, produced considerable confusion; but order was soon restored and the enemy checked. The artillery was brought back as soon as possible, and from a good position 2 miles east of Rheatown we again gave the enemy battle, which lasted for more than 3 hours, when gradually fell back to Jonesborough. Agreeably to your instructions, I moved Gen. Jackson’s infantry along the line of the railroad and the cavalry toward Blountville.
Brigadier-General John S. Williams.

11 OCTOBER 1863: A Confederate staff officer’s account of the Skirmish at Rheatown.
Col. Giltner had gone into Camp-Gen’l Jackson had diverged from the main column & was a mile off on the R. R. Col. Carter’s Brig – were sitting on their horses in the road above town. The Enemy had made another flank movement & came upon our left, and had placed their artillery in a gap of the ridge just opposite R-town, & commenced shelling our column. Witcher who was in the rear was cut off & came around South of the town & rejoined his Command.

Our artillery was by a misunderstanding all ordered down to the Rail Road with Genl. Jackson & accidentally escaped capture by the Enemy – and before it could be brought up the Enemy had advanced their sharp shooters within rifle shot of our mounted men & opened upon the columns standing in the road. A portion of Col. Carter’s brigade considering rather their safety than their honor-broke to the rear &caused the terrible military phenomenon of a panic resulting in a stampede. They rushed madly forward, dashing through fences, & passed right through our Head Quarters camp, where I was lying down to get a little rest.

Have rode my gray horse until his back was very sore, I was bridling Capt. Jenkins SORRELL – but had only time to put the bridle on – & mounted him bareback & joined Col Carter & some of his officers in trying to rally his men—& after appealing to their sense of patriotism & pride, & their baser sense of fear of being shot for stampeding, about 300 were stopped, dismounted & sent back to a position to hold the Enemy in check until our other troops could get in position & our wagons move[d] out of the way. I gave my grey horse (Charley) to ‘boy’ Arthur to lead, but the stampeders so frightened him that he jerked away & rushed headlong with the crowd.

Col Giltner’s men were soon put in position on the left, & Jimmie SCHOOLFIELD’s Battery of four little William Guns served by 25 as gallant boys as ever lived;- but Col Carter’s men being compelled to give way on the right compelled the withdrawal of our line to another position more defensible where we could check the advance of the Enemy until our trains could move out of the way. A heavy force of the Enemy’s cavalry upon our left flank also rendered a change of position necessary.

Great numbers of the men straggled to the rear, afflicted with all the “ills that flesh is heir to”-and a great deal more than its honest inheritance. We could muster about 1600 men, one fourth of whom or 400 were horse holders, leaving 1200 for action, not more than 800 or 1000 of whom could at any time be brought into battle. We had assurances that we were fighting from 3000 to 5000 mounted men.

From our position near Rheatown, we withdrew about 11/2 or 2 miles to a commanding eminence called Pugh’s Hill – where we fought another engagement we will call by that name. The third time we have delivered battle today – and this is Sunday. Nobody knew it. It’s sweet & once peaceful features were so disfigured in blood, and its heavenly rest & quiet was broken with the roar of cannon & musketry. Alas! how changed!

It was a beautiful & pleasant day, as well I remember: though we had no time to make observations on the weather. Every soul. With all its energies was bent on blood & battle, & saving ourselves, our artillery & transpiration from the enemy. Our position at Pugh’s Hill was a good one, commanding all approached on the centre but liable to be flanked on the right: and this flanking way off fighting is peculiarly in favor with the Yankees. Our dismounted cavalry—withdrew from their former position to this new one in splendid style, and before the Enemy made their appearance, we had our dispositions made to meet them. Genl. Jackson was cut off from us & it was difficult & dangerous to communicate with him at all.

In this engagement the artillery was well handled upon both sides-one of their shells killing and wounding several of our artillerists & artillery horses; and our fire driving back in confusion both their cavalry & Infantry. After quite a severe engagement, in which bombshells & Minnie balls played quite a serious part, Col Giltner comdg. (the Genl. was sick ) ordered the men to fall back to their horses, which were held in the rear of the position.

The enemy pressed so closely on the rear that the “double quick” movement became the popular one, which very soon ended in a disgraceful stampede – one of the most fearful things I ever witnessed. Hundreds & hundreds of men & horses came rushing past, and no effort of officers could stay the impetuous tide. Officer & men of every corps & company, all mingled & crowded together came a headlong speed down the road, through the fields, over fences, across hills & everywhere. Horses riderless and riders horseless all came in the swelling, seething tornado of human flesh and human fear.

At one time I gave up all for lost – and with Capt. Stanton & Capt. Jenkins made arrangement to save ourselves from capture, if possible, or being ridden down by the tornado of stampeders. The Gen’l, all his officer of the line, & staff officers used every exertion in human power to stop the men, but in vain. The horse holders ran away & left our men to their fate who were on foot. Giltner’s fine regiment was in danger of being sacrificed.

The Enemy were pressing closely upon them in superior numbers & many of their horses had been run off by the stampeders. I suppose there were 500 men rushing headlong towards the rear perfectly panic stricken & demoralized. I am satisfied that if the Yankees had charged our brigade with 200 good cavalry they would have routed it, & almost destroyed it, & taken artillery & all. But fortunately they did not have the pluck or the sagacity to take advantage of our disorganized state, & so by luck we were saved. They did endeavor a charge upon our dismounted men as they were falling back to their horses, but a volley sent them charging back.

Col Giltner’s reg’t being on the extreme right, & furthest away from the horses, experienced the greatest difficulty in getting out, & indeed three of his Captains and 40 or 50 of his men did not succeed in getting to their horses at all, but were cut off from the Enemy, & those not captured were dispersed in the woods. The Col. ordered his horse holder to stand by their charge until his men came up, or the Yankees captured them. He would not leave his men on foot to be rode down or captured by the enemy.

Jim Schoolfield’s battery unlimbered on the roadside & sent a broadside into the Yankee column which checked their advance, & saved many a brave, footsore fellow from capture. The battery & its gallant boys deserve immortal honor. At intervals of every half mile guards were placed to stop all men going to the front, & with drawn pistols threatened to shoot any man who dared to pass. By this means the pace of the fugitives was reduced to a moderate travelling gate, from the ‘240’ style at which they had started, & in this way we pursued our march on through Leesburg to Jonesboro. I came forward to Leesburg to find my horse, that had gotten away, and overtook Arthur leading him just at Leesburg. Since yesterday our men & horses have gone without food or rest night & day & fought four times.

Our losses in this last fight a Pugh’s hill were more serious than at any time today. Giltner alone lost about 50 killed, wounded & missing out of his reg’t – most of whom it is hoped will come up. Three of his captains … were lost. The loss of the Enemy must have been severe, as our men fired deliberately, & sometimes at 50 paces. We learned from a prisoner that they lost 60 this morning at Henderson’s mill. They must have lost more [of] both at Rheatown & Pugh’s Hill. So, without food or rest, we marched 35 miles and fought four times since yesterday morning. I never was so exhausted …
~ Diary of Edward O. Guerrant

Blue Springs Church and Cemetery
The amputated limbs of the wounded and some of the dead from the Battle of Blue Springs of 10 October 1863 are said to be buried in a mass grave in this cemetery.

14 OCTOBER 1863: Skirmish at Blountville
Confederate forces evacuate Zollicoffer [Bluff City]
The enemy advanced & endeavored to force our position at Blountville, but did not succeed, & turned our right flank, (as usual.)
The movements of the enemy forced Gen’l. Williams to concentrate his forces at Zollicoffer & fall back to Abingdon [VA]. It was supposed the Enemy would gain Bristol before us, The cars at Zollicoffer were loaded with store[s], sick, & wounded, & hastened past Bristol, to prevent capture. The Gen’l & all the troops evacuated Zollicoffer about 10 P. M.
~ Diary of Edward O. Guerrant, October 14, 1863.

Within days, Williams and his men have retired to Virginia.

Burnside’s troops return by cars to Knoxville on 15 October 1863.

“Battle of Rheatown, Sometimes called the Rheatown Races,” 1st Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, Carter’s Company B, accessed 23 October 2021,

“Battle of Rheatown,” War of the Rebellion, Serial 051, Chapter XLII, The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021,

“Blue Springs,” Battles of the Civil War, War of the Rebellion, The Ohio University, August 11-October 19, 1863, accessed 13 October 2021,

“Blue Springs (October 10, 1863), “ East Tennessee Campaign (September-October 1863), Legends of America, accessed 13 October 2021,

A Confederate staff officer’s account of the Skirmish at Rheatown:

“East Tennessee Campaign,” Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook, Tennessee State Library and Archives, accessed 10 February 2021,

“East Tennessee Campaign,” War of the Rebellion, Serial 051, Chapter XLII,  The Ohio State University, accessed 20 February 2021,

Battle of Blountville: Not just a four-hour romp

In August 1863, USA Gen. Ambrose Burnside organizes his 15,000 troops in Kentucky and marches into Northeast Tennessee. On 3 September 1863, with most of the Confederate troops absent defending Chattanooga, Burnside easily occupies Knoxville, and is received by cheers from the city’s Unionist civilians. Confederate forces have successfully controlled Northeast Tennessee since 26 July 1861.

Major General Ambrose Burnside USA

Protecting the Railroad
The railroad running through Northeast Tennessee—the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad—is the chief means of communication, travel, and shipment of supplies. The bridges, telegraph lines, and tracks of the ET&VA have been in possession of the Confederate forces since July 1861—except for a short period in November 1861 when gangs of Unionists burned two of the railroad bridges on the ET&VA.

Col. John W. Foster USA

Soon after his arrival in Northeast Tennessee in September 1863, Gen. Burnside maps out an aggressive campaign to gain control of the ET&VA railroad. Hoping to also rid the area of Rebels, Burnside sends Union troops to push through to the Virginia border, running off the Southern military along the way. This is the initial step in the Union attempt to force CSA Gen. Samuel Jones and his command to leave Northeast Tennessee.

In mid-September, USA Col. John W. Foster marches his force toward the town of Zollicoffer (now Bluff City) in Northeast Tennessee to engage the troops stationed there under CSA Col. James E. Carter. These troops skirmish for several days along [ET&VA] Railroad between Carter’s Depot [now the town of Watauga] and Zollicoffer [present-day Bluff City]—vying for control of the railroad.

September 20, 1863
Confederate Repulse of Union demonstration in force near Zollicoffer
[now Bluff City]
ZOLLICOFFER, September 20.
The enemy made a demonstration in force on us here to-day, and were repulsed. My cavalry followed them to Blountville, 6 miles from here. Their force engaged to-day are believed to have been not less than 2,000, all mounted, and six pieces of artillery. Five other regiments are reported between Jonesborough and Watauga Bridge, but they had not engaged my force at the latter place late this afternoon.
Zollicoffer is a station on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, 11 miles from Bristol. Jonesborough is 32 miles from Bristol. The distance from Bristol to Knoxville is 130 miles.

21 September 1863
On 21 September 1863 near Shipley’s Ferry crossing on the Watauga River, Union forces receive reinforcements and turn north toward the town of Blountville in Sullivan County.

Unlike most counties in Northeast Tennessee, in June 1861 Sullivan County vote strongly for separation from the Union—1,586 voting for and 627 against. Many call it ‘The Little Confederacy.’ With most of its residents in and around the county seat, Blountville benefits from a major transportation route and a small but educated group of merchants and professionals.

22 September 1863: Battle of Blountville
On the morning of 22 September CSA Col. James E. Carter and his 1st Tennessee Cavalry withdraw from their position on the Watauga River and occupy Blountville.

Battle of Blountville: Confederate Position
[The marker stands] in the former schoolyard of the Masonic Female Institute, where Confederate troops stood as they defended Blountville on September 22, 1863. Col. James E. Carter’s 1st Tennessee Cavalry withdrew that morning of 1863 from the Watauga River to positions … that had already been prepared to block the Union Col. John W. Foster’s cavalry brigade after it crossed the river. Foster took up a position on Cemetery Hill on the western end of town early in the afternoon, and a destructive artillery duel ensued. After four hours of fighting and shelling, the Confederates withdrew to Carter’s Depot on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad a few miles east of here as Federals charged through the town near dusk.
Carter lost a cannon and about fifty men captured in battle. The next day, he evacuated the depot, leaving it in Foster’s hands.
White Side Lodge No. 13 constructed the Masonic Female Institute in 1855 “to promote female education.” Jefferson Academy, the boys’ school, which stood near Cemetery Hill, contributed funds for the construction of the girls’ school. The academy was closed about 1900, and the girls’ school then became the Masonic Institute for both girls and boys until 1919.
Blountville, looking east from near the Union position, with the Masonic Female Institute at upper right, ca. 1900 – Courtesy Sullivan Co. Archives
Masonic Female Institute, 1907 – Courtesy Hunt Library
Marker is on Franklin Drive, 0.1 miles east of Tennessee Route 394, Blountville TN 37617.
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

USA Col. John W. Foster and his 2500 men occupy the south bank of the Watauga River; he leads his cavalry brigade across the river at 9 a.m. After a short fight he drives the outnumbered Rebel pickets in on the main Confederate body and sets up his artillery on Cemetery Hill on the west side of town.

Engagement at and burning of Blountville [artillery duel]
BLOUNTSVILLE, TENN., September 22, 1863.
GEN.: We met the enemy at Hall’s Ford, on the Watauga, this morning at 9 o’clock, where our passage over both rivers was disputed by a heavy picket force of cavalry. After considerable skirmishing, the enemy was driven back and near to town, where we found the enemy posted in a chosen position with four pieces of artillery.
It was with difficulty that we could dislodge them after four hours’ fighting. I at last effected it by a charge of the Sixty-fifth Indiana Mounted Infantry, Fifth Indiana Cavalry, and Eighth Tennessee Cavalry, which was made just before dark. Our loss is not heavy, about 6 killed and 14 wounded, mostly of the Sixty-fifth Indiana Volunteers. We captured about 50 prisoners and 1 piece of artillery.
The shells of the enemy set fire to the town, and a great portion of it was consumed. Lieut. Miller, of my staff, will communicate all further desired information of my position and the enemy’s movements, and what is deemed necessary by me.
Very respectfully,

Battle of Blountville: Federal Guns on Cemetery Hill
This is where Union forces stood as they attacked Blountville on September 22, 1863, during a campaign to control the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. On the day of the attack, the Confederates occupied Blountville while the Federal forces held the south bank of the Watauga River.
Union Colonel John W. Foster led his cavalry brigade across the river at 9 A.M., drove off pickets from Confederate Col. James E. Carter’s 1st Tennessee Cavalry, and then occupied Cemetery Hill. Foster shelled Carter’s positions in Blountville … then ordered a charge about sundown that pushed Carter’s regiment from the town.
Foster reported that he suffered six killed and fourteen wounded. The next day, he occupied Carter’s Depot as the Confederates withdrew.
The cemetery here was created before 1824 on land that later belonged to the adjacent Blountville Presbyterian Church. Although churches typically had their own burying grounds, the local Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches, which stood near here, all shared this cemetery.
Blountville from Cemetery Hill — Copyright Anita B. Long (2002)
Blountville Presbyterian Church, which burned during the war. It was rebuilt later (shown with a red roof in the painting). Photograph ca. 1900 Courtesy Sullivan Co. Archives
The marker is located in Blountville Cemetery, Blountville TN 37617V
[lower right]
Battle of Blountville Heritage Trial.
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

Col. Foster attacks at noon, continuously shelling the town. The two sides fight an artillery duel for four hours. Col. James E. Carter and his men stand defiantly in Foster’s way.

Battle of Blountville: “…the best portion of the town was destroyed”
This is the Sullivan County Courthouse. Its interior was burned during the Union attack on Blountville on September 22, 1863, as Confederate and Federal forces vied for control of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, located a few miles east of here. Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside needed the railroad for a supply line to Knoxville; the Confederates wanted it for a supply line to Virginia. After several days of skirmishing at Blountville and along the railroad at Carter’s Depot and Zollicoffer, the Confederates occupied Blountville while Federal forces held the south bank of the Watauga River.
Union Col. John W. Foster led his cavalry brigade across the river at 9 A.M. on September 22. Confederate Col. James E. Carter’s 1st Tennessee Cavalry defended Blountville. For four hours in the afternoon, as Foster occupied Cemetery Hill, the two sides fought an artillery duel until Foster ordered a charge that drove Carter’s men out of town.
During the fight, exploding shells set fire to the courthouse and other buildings. Foster reported that “the shells of the enemy set fire to the town, and a great portion of it was consumed.” Mrs. Walter E. Allen, however, later wrote that “a shell from the Federal guns entered the courthouse, setting it on fire, and soon all the best portion of the town was destroyed.”
Sullivan County Courthouse, constructed 1854, ca. 1900 photo Courtesy Hunt Library
Sullivan County commissioners, ca. 1900 Courtesy Hunt Library
Marker is at or near this postal address: 3425 Tennessee 126, Blountville TN 37617.
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

Sullivan County Court House 
The Court House in Blountville is gutted by a fire that breaks out during the shelling. [It is rebuilt in 1866.] Several other dwellings and buildings are destroyed during the Battle of Blountville. Most reports state that Union shells struck the courthouse, burning its interior contents completely and leaving only the brick exterior walls intact.

Heavy cannonading this evening towards Blountville indicate the progress of the battle. The smoke ascending from the Cannon plainly visible at Squire Rhea’s. Engagement ceased about 6 P. M.
About 7 P. M. some dozen horsemen came by flying from the Yankees, reported that we were “cut to pieces” at Blountville,—town burnt up, most of our men captured, &c. &c. &c. Didn’t believe enough of it to prevent me from sleeping soundly …
~ Diary of Edward O. Guerrant

The Cannonball House: Narrowly Missed Destruction
[This marker stands] in front of the Miller-Haynes house, known as the Cannonball House because of structural damage it sustained from Union cannon fire during the Battle of Blountville on September 22, 1863. During the artillery exchanges, Confederate forces were largely behind and east of the house, while Col. John W. Foster’s Union forces were positioned west of here at Blountville Cemetery. Several cannonballs struck the house’s western side.
It was fortunate that artillery fire did not destroy the house completely. Kentucky Confederate Edward O. Guerrant wrote in his diary on September 25: “Twelve dwellings, the Court House, Jail & both hotels were burned by the enemy’s shells. About the half (& better half) of the little town was destroyed.” Foster, in contrast, reported on the day of the battle that “the shells of the enemy set fire to the town, and a great portion of it was consumed.”
In 1849, Elbert S. Miller had purchased the house and lot from J. Irwin’s heirs; Miller later sold the home to Matthew T. Haynes, who lived there during the Civil War with his wife Kate Snapp Haynes and other members of the Snapp family. Haynes held the Confederate office of state receiver and was responsible for acquiring the confiscated property of Union sympathizers. Haynes’s brother, Landon Carter Haynes, was one of the region’s most vocal Confederates and represented Tennessee at the Confederate Senate in Richmond.
These photographs show shell damage to exterior clapboard in the rear of the house, now protected by plexiglass, and to an interior door.
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

The Cannonball House with its marker in the foreground.
During the Battle of Blountville, this house stood between the lines as fighting swirled around it, but it survived.

Mr. Wm James of Blountville came by with his family & plunder this evening – all in one little two horse wagon. His house was burned & he saved only his wife & children from the flames. Enough for happiness if he be strong and faithful. Twelve dwellings, the Court House, Jail & both hotels were burned by the enemy’s shells. About the half (& better half) of the little town was destroyed. Mr. James says we had about 1000 troops there & the Enemy 5000 (five to one,) but that the best of the fight was with us. It was principally an artillery duel. After fighting for several hours & until it was almost night, Col. Carter’s (comd’g) ammunition was exhausted & he withdrew in good order.
~ Diary of Edward O. Guerrant,
September 22, 1863

Old Deery Inn: Refuge from the Storm
In September 1863, Confederate Gen. Samuel Jones’s command and Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s forces contested control of the [Virginia and Tennessee] East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad a few miles east. On September 22, Union Col. John W. Foster’s brigade engaged the forces of Confederate Col. James E. Carter at Blountville.
When the firing began, the women and children gathered the sick and elderly and sought refuge in the cellars of the most solid buildings; the St. John residence and the Old Deery Inn.
“In the thick of the fight and more dangerously exposed than the soldiers of either side were the fleeing women,” historian Oliver Taylor wrote in 1909. “In the confusion of such a hasty departure distracted mothers became separated from their children; cavalrymen dashed across their path, while bullets and bombs whistled above them. They went through Brown’s meadow and finally found a safe retreat beyond the hills.” Exploding shells set much of the town on fire.
William Deery constructed this trading post and tavern, later known as the Old Derry Inn, early in the 1800s. As Deery prospered, he added to the building, including a three-story hewn stone structure in the rear. After his death about 1845, his widow lived here until the Cate family purchased it after the Civil War.
Although Deery’s children had left Sullivan County years before, they did not escape the war’s effects. Eldest daughter Martha married Col. William Churchwell, who died at Cumberland Gap in 1862. Seraphina, the youngest daughter, married Col. Randal McGavock, a colonel in the 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment (CSA) who was killed at the Battle of Raymond.
Old Deery Inn, 1927 — Courtesy Hunt Library
The dining room in the stone section of the inn where town residents took refuge during the Battle of Blountville.
(lower right)
Battle of Blountville / Heritage Trail map.
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.

Present-day Old Deery Inn in Blountville, Northeast Tennessee
Many women and children who lived in the nearby fled to the historic Deery Inn for safety during the Battle of Blountville.

Major-General Burnside’s situation report to President Abraham Lincoln
CARTER’S STATION, TENN., September 23, 1863.
His Excellency A. LINCOLN, President United States:
Your dispatch of the 21st is received, and the order shall be obeyed at once. Every available man shall be concentrated at the point you direct, and with as little delay as possible. We hold this road effectually to this point, and have driven the enemy within a few miles of Virginia and probably into Virginia. I am now waiting for reports from the front so that I can definitely report to you the position of our advance.
One of our cavalry brigades had a sharp fight yesterday at Blountville, in which the enemy were beaten and dispersed. I will telegraph the particulars this evening or to-morrow. The main body of the troops are now moving in the direction your order indicates. The bridge at this place is burned, and I suppose the one over the Holston at Union Station [Zollicoffer] is also burned. That is the extreme point that I was ordered by Gen. Halleck to hold.
I leave for Knoxville very soon, and will try to telegraph you from there early tomorrow morning. Nearly 40 miles of the distance has to be made on horseback, owing to the burning of some small bridges between Greeneville and Jonesborough, which I hope to have repaired very soon. I shall leave force enough in this neighborhood to, in all probability, hold this section until the citizens can be armed. The entire country is Union up to the line of the Watauga River. Sevier County is entirely rebellious. …
Our cavalry, under Gen. [James M.] Shackelford, has been continually in contact with the enemy, driving them all the time. Col. Carter’s brigade has been moving along line of railroad, and Col. Foster has been on the flank. He whipped the enemy very handsomely, both at Blountville and Bristol. We have thus far captured but four pieces of artillery and but few prisoners. I hope direct telegraph communication will be opened with you to-morrow.
A. E. BURNSIDE, Maj.-Gen., Comdg.

The accounting
After delaying the Union advance for more than four hours, Col. Carter and his Confederates withdraw to Carter’s Depot on the ET&VA Railroad, a few miles away. Col. Foster loses 27 Union soldiers during the battle. Carter suffers 165 casualties, fifty of his men are taken prisoner, and he loses one artillery piece. The next day, he evacuates the depot, leaving it in Foster’s hands. Though it is considered a minor battle in the overall history of the American Civil War, the battle left a permanent mark on the town and its people.

24 September 1863
Union troops drag out the occupation of Blountville for two days. On 24 September 1863, Union forces move on toward Zollicoffer and the reinforced Confederates who await them. The Confederates attack the advancing Union troops from Hamilton Hill. After several hours of fighting, the Yankees are driven back to Blountville. After a few hours, they head out through Carter’s Depot on their way back to Knoxville.

“Battle of Blountville,” Civil War Reenactment and Military Park, 158th Anniversary of the Battle of Blountville 2021, accessed 1 October 2021,

“Battle of Blountville,” Civil War Talk, accessed 10 October 2021,

“Battle of Blountville: Confederate Position,” The Historical Marker Database, Bite-size Bits of Local, National, and Global History, accessed 1 October 2021,

“Battle of Blountville: Federal Guns on Cemetery Hill,” The Historical Marker Database, Bite-size Bits of Local, National, and Global History, accessed 1 October 2021,

“Battle of Blountville: …the best portion of the town was destroyed,” The Historical Marker Database, Bite-size Bits of Local, National, and Global History, accessed 1 October 2021,

“The Cannonball House: Narrowly Missed Destruction,” The Historical Marker Database, Bite-size Bits of Local, National, and Global History, accessed 10 October 2021,

“Old Deery Inn: Refuge from the Storm,” The Historical Marker Database, Bite-size Bits of Local, National, and Global History, accessed 10 October 2021,

“Old Deery Inn,” The Historical Marker Database, Bite-size Bits of Local, National, and Global History, accessed 10 October 2021,

“Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook,” Tennessee State Library and Archives, accessed 10 February 2021,

Margaret Crozier Ramsey’s Confederate Diary

Margaret ‘Peggy’ Barton Crozier is born in Knoxville TN 18 September 1802 to John and Hannah Crozier. She marries J.G.M. [James Gettys McGready] Ramsey on 1 March 1821.

Bird’s Eye View of the City of Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee.
Where Margaret Ramsey lives until her home is burned.

This description of the Ramsey’s early married life from Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey: Autobiography and Letters is somewhat different from other sources. The house referred to is Mecklenburg:
On the first of March 1821, I was married to the present Mrs. Ramsey, Peggy Barton Crozier, eldest daughter of Captain John and Hannah Crozier then living at Fruit Hill near Knoxville. After a bridal tour of several weeks we returned and prepared for house-keeping. We lived in Knoxville till January 7, 1823, when we removed to a [building] house I had erected on one of my father’s farms around Gilliam’s Station immediately in the fork of Holston and French Broad Rivers.

Margaret’s husband, Dr. J.G.M. [James Gettys McGready] Ramsey, is a prominent physician in Knoxville; he is also active in politics, banking, and railroads. As a very vocal states’ rights Democrat, he supports secession and serves as a treasury agent and field surgeon for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Portrait of American historian J.G.M. Ramsey (1797–1884) by artist Lloyd Branson. Samuel G. Heiskell, Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History (Nashville, Tenn.: Ambrose Printing Company, 1921).

Description of Mecklenburg
I could find no image of Mecklenburg, Margaret’s home until it was burned to the ground by the Union military on 1 September 1863. So I have brought you a physical description of Mecklenburg by a correspondent of the Mobile Advertiser, which was republished in the Knoxville Register of 6 April 1862.:

1862: A Visit to Mecklenburg by S. G. Heiskell
I enjoyed a most delightful visit, a few evenings ago, in company with the talented and witty editor of the Knoxville Register, Col. J. A. Sperry, at the house of the celebrated historian of Tenn., Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, who resides at the junction of the Holston and French Broad Rivers, about four miles northeast of Knoxville. The road to the Doctor’s house is a most delightful one, presenting some charming views of mountain and valley scenery.
At the junction of the rivers, the Holston winds around a beautiful, undulating country, forming a picturesque, indented shore running from the north to the south; while some hundred yards above, it falls over a rocky bed making a pleasant murmuring sound and reminds one of the dark-rolling waters of the Danube. On the right is presented the mouth of the French Broad, running from east to west, with its high, rocky cliffs on the north side, jutting over some sixty-five feet. About three hundred yards from the mouth, under the cliff, gushes a clear, cool spring, which is approached by a small boat, the scene by moonlight is very exquisite.
Crossing the Holston, you ascend a graded bank, and near a high Indian mound stands an ancient looking building, once called Gilliam’s Station built in 1790, and now the residence of the venerable historian, surrounded by primitive forest trees. Near the main building is a small cottage, over which is still to be seen the Doctor’s original “shingle,” on a plain board about four feet long and one wide, which was once painted white, but now faded, with black letters still plainly visible, ‘Doctor Ramsey.’ This was once the doctor’s office and laboratory, and is still in its primitive state, while in an adjoining room is his library and museum. …
S. G. Heiskell,” A Visit to Mecklenburg, “Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, vol. 2, pp. 117-118, accessed 30 August 2021,

Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey: Autobiography and Letters

The Ramsey children:
Elizabeth Alexander Ramsey Breck
John Crozier Ramsey
William Wilberforce Alexander Ramsey
Margaret Jane Crozier Ramsey Dickson
Francis Alexander Ramsey
Robert McGready Ramsey
Henrietta Rutledge Ramsey Lenoir
J.G. [James Gettys] McKnitt Ramsey 
Charlotte Barton Ramsey
Susan Ann Amelia Ramsey Alexander
Arthur Crozier Ramsey

In 1860 nine of their eleven children still lived at home or nearby.

When the American Civil War begins in 1861, Margaret’s eldest son, John Crozier Ramsey [his family calls him ‘Crozier’] is an attorney in Knoxville. He is appointed Confederate States District Attorney for East Tennessee; he aggressively files charges against the city’s pro-Unionists.


JUNE 1863
J.G.M. Ramsey flees to Abingdon, Virginia, when a Union force moves toward Knoxville in June 1863—that would be Sanders’ Raid. He returns two months later, just in time to flee again after a larger invasion—Burnside’s invasion of East Tennessee.

When Union troops advance on East Tennessee again in August 1863, J.G.M. Ramsey flees, this time under an armed guard, just ahead of the Federal occupation. USA Gen. Ambrose Burnside and his Army of the Ohio take possession of Knoxville without a fight and decide to stay awhile.

From Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey’s Autobiography and Letters
My wife and daughters occupied Mecklenburg the old mansion for a few days only after I left them. Threats were made that the house would be burned as belonging to a confirmed rebel and a high officer in the rebel government. … My family therefore thought it prudent to leave the old place and did remove to Knoxville, taking with them little more than their wearing apparel.

Everything else—including my museum, … my private papers, my correspondent’s letters, my three libraries (historical, medical, and miscellaneous), the second volume of the History of Tennessee (from 1800 to the close of the American war) [which he wrote] all ready for the press – not to mention the crops on several farms, my large stock of every kind, furniture etc.

After a few days spent in a rented house in town my ladies received the expected information that the whole [estate] was stolen, confiscated or burnt. I and my sons were with the army in Georgia and Virginia. I, as a [Confederate] financial agent by day and a surgeon after business hours in the field, camps, or hospitals, doing all I could for the wounded Rebels falling back before the victorious enemy.

I made in all eight remarkable … escapes but was never captured and did not lose a dollar belonging to … the Confederate treasury. [Lee’s] surrender found me at Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina [So also were my wife and daughters in Tennessee.

In 1864 our youngest daughter [Susan] was sent south for “disloyal acts.” The enemy would not indulge her in the wish to be sent to Atlanta where I then was but sent her under flag of truce to the mountains of Virginia. There I met her and soon after I met also Mrs. Ramsey and another of our daughters Mrs. [Elizabeth] Breck …

On 1 September 1863, a Michigan private asks for directions to Dr. Ramsey’s house. Soon afterward, the beautiful old family mansion is ablaze. This is not a popular action among Northern soldiers. After “indignation was publicly expressed upon the streets and in more private circles,” the soldier is identified, drummed out of service, and sent back to Michigan.

J.G.M. Ramsey learns of the event while in exile in Marietta, Georgia and writes:
Everyone who witnessed the infliction of this idle military ceremonial laugh at the inadequacy of the punishment to the enormity of the crime. … The burning of a Southern patriot’s house and making a gentleman’s family homeless and houseless is rewarded by allowing the convict quietly to retire in private life with all his laurels fresh upon his brow.
I thought little of the loss of property. But the apprehension that my library, my manuscripts, my unpublished second volume of the History of Tennessee … also taken or burned did give me a bitter pang—none could be more bitter. Property I could replace or live without. But this loss was irreparable.

Margaret ‘Peggy’ Ramsey writes in her diary:
The old mansion where we dispensed hospitality with a liberal hand is in ashes … the shade trees where our children played so happily, now stand all black and charred, not by thunder bolts, but by the ruthless hands of men. [Scenes of] … our beautiful home all come up before me – the large and stately trees, the grand rivers, the deep and quiet French Broad River … and the grand old bluff so lofty, the green fields with growing grain … All these I was once the mistress of … Now I am the poor governess.

Margaret points out that secession in Knoxville predominates among the upper class. In her diary, she remarks that her family is of considerable stature and that Northeast Tennessee’s lower classes are Unionists:

… those who visited us so often, ate at our table, flattered and fawned the most were the first to injure—together with the still lower class that had been … fed and clothed by our bounty. O for the grace to forgive them.

Martial punishment for burning the house of Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey
Military Punishment.
Our city last evening witnessed a scene seldom offered by war, and never afforded by the troops of the rebel oligarchy. Before the Union army entered the State, the commander issued the most stringent orders against pillaging and marauding, and prescribing the most extreme penalties for its violation. We are happy in saying that the order had its effect, and that instances of disobedience have been surprisingly few. Some, however, have transgressed, and upon them the full rigor of the law has fallen.
Yesterday evening just before dark the troops in this vicinity were paraded on Main street under Gen. Shackelford, and one Anderson, of the 11th Kentucky, who had been convicted by a court-martial of having burnt and pillaged, in connection with others, the house of Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey in this vicinity, was driven through the files of soldiers to the tune of the “Rogue’s March,” with his head shaved and a placard of disgrace upon his breast.
Thus publicly, in the presence of his comrades, was this man stripped of the insignia of honor and driven out from their ranks as unworthy to bear arms for the Union. What evidence stronger than this do our citizens want that the army of the Union is the army way of protection to life and property; that the government of the United States is determined to re-establish law and order in the land.
Dr. Ramsey has been from the commencement of the war an ardent, active rebel; but the government, although it will undoubtedly hold him to the penalty of his crime, will not under any circumstances whatever, allow him or any one else to be the victim of lawless violence or indiscriminate plundering.
The law may come in and strip all these men, not only of property, but of life itself, but the law alone is clothed with this terrible power, and the General commanding seems determined that his troops shall know and respect this principle.
The great body of them do appreciate it now, and have from the beginning not from any fear of punishment, but from an innate respect to law. Those few exceptions among them who consider the bayonet a credential to plunder, we hope profited by the lesson given them last evening, and will spare us the pain of such spectacles in the future.
Knoxville Daily Bulletin, 16 September 1863.

The Ramsey House in East Knoxville [not Mecklenburg]
To generate some income, the family are forced to sell the Ramsey House, where J.G.M. Ramsey grew up. The stone house Ramsey’s father built in the year of his birth still stands on Thorngrove Pike in East Knoxville. It is currently a museum. Images of the interior follow.

Images from the Ramsey House in East Knoxville, Northeast Tennessee

After fleeing Knoxville in late August 1863, J.G.M. Ramsey spends the rest of the war in various cities, continuously fleeing the Union Army’s advance. As the war rages on, the family fortunes collapse.

JULY 1864
Margaret Crozier Ramsey finally goes into exile at the request of her husband, who recognizes that his positions of leadership in the Confederacy pose a danger to his family. She is reluctant to leave but understands the gravity of the situation. When she flees Knoxville, Margaret is separated from some of her family members and mourns leaving Knoxville, fearing she “should never return.”

Margaret Crozier Ramsey’s Diary
2 JULY 1864

The second day of July 1864, I left Knoxville, Tenn. where I [had] remained ten months under Federal rule or tyranny. … A letter received from Alex, before leaving Knoxville, informed us he was a prisoner, Arthur wounded. Robert was in the fight, that he never saw him after the fight commenced, of course I had cause for anxiety.

8 JULY 1864: Mrs. Ramsey arrives at Bristol
The little town of Bristol is split right down the middle, half in Tennessee, half in Virginia. In this entry she writes about her children, especially her sons in the Confederate Army.

Arrived at Bristol Friday the 8th, found none of our family but Crozier [son John Crozier Ramsey] who has also fled Knoxville.

On Sunday McK.[son J.G. McKnitt Ramsey]returned from a scout; Robert[McGready Ramsey]fighting in the Valley of VA; Alex [Francis Alexander Ramsey]in prison; Arthur gone to his long home [still alive]; Sue in Liberty VA with her Uncle J.H.C’s family, [John Hervey Crozier, Margaret’s brother]. Dr. [J.G.M.] Ramsey in the South. 

We received the order two days before. E.A.B. [daughter Elizabeth Alexander Ramsey Breck] and myself left on Saturday morning. Many came to see us off and accompanied us to the depot. … It was sad times, I was anxious to leave, had heard that dear Arthur was wounded and wished to get to him. We were leaving our native home [not] knowing that we should ever return and where we were going or what sorrowful news we should hear after arriving in the Confederacy. Some friends thought it best for us to remain in Tennessee, but anxiety was so wearing I could bear it no longer. So long had I been separated from my family especially after Sue [daughter Susan was banished from Knoxville in 1864] and Arthur [youngest son joined the Confederate Army that year] left me. I was so restless and anxious. …

At Strawberry Plains, only 15 miles from Knoxville, our trunks were again searched and we all taken to the home of Mr. McBee. Our persons searched by two women was bad, been brought there for that purpose. Maj. Smith, the Yankee officer, in whose charge we were, called them ladies, but they were far from what we considered ladies, so we afterwards told him. … True to his promise the Maj. came the next day with an ambulance, baggage wagon and 25 armed soldiers carrying a white flag. We met with some relatives. … they wished us to stay with them. But I was so anxious to go on, could not think of it.

In the afternoon before we left Mossy Creek, a company of Confederates came, going to New Market under a flag of truce to meet the Federals on some business. Among them were some acquaintances, there I saw Mr. James White of Knoxville, who told me that my poor son Arthur’s foot was taken off, but that he was doing very well. That distressed me, but I hoped I should get to him. He also told me Robert had come through the fight safe. … This escort took us to Greeneville, TN. We were received by Mrs. [Catherine] Williams at her hospitable and elegant mansion [now called the Dickson-Williams House] after a fatiguing journey over rough roads, dust and the hot sun, the kindness of our hostess, her cool rooms, pleasant walks through the vineyard and garden were truly refreshing. …

Two months later, in the same vineyard Margaret Crozier Ramsey strolled through, CSA Cavalry Gen. John Hunt Morgan will be killed by a Union officer on horseback in the early morning hours of 4 September 1864. Someone has ridden hard to the Union encampment several miles away to report that Morgan is spending the night at Mrs. William’s mansion in Greeneville. This scene is part of my novel, Amanda’s Civil War.

The town was full of Yankees when Amanda arrived. A gray murky dawn was trying to break but having little success. She sneaked around the edges of the crowd. … Just then, a Union soldier on a horse came up the alley, gave a shout, fired a shot. General Morgan clutched his chest and fell to the ground. A bullet fired immediately afterward struck a young man who was trying to help Morgan get away.

“Oh, Lord—Luke!” Amanda shouted. She rushed forward, trying to get to her son. The man on the horse raised his gun to her.

“I’m the boy’s mother!” she shouted.

“Oh… Yes, ma’am,” he said. “I’m sorry about the boy. He should have stayed out of the way.”

CSA Gen. John Hunt Morgan

Dickson-Williams Mansion in Greeneville, Northeast Tennessee

Margaret Crozier Ramsey continues her journey through Northeast Tennessee
After partaking of a good breakfast, Mrs. C. [Catherine Williams] gave us cheese, pickles, bread, etc. for lunch on the way, and kindly gave me a cheese to take to my poor Arthur, … Arrived at Jonesborough TN in the afternoon, found an ambulance waiting for us, here Mrs. J stopped at her father’s. We were urged to stay all night by several kind ladies. Mrs. Akers said she had prepared for us.

Col. Brazelton asked what I wished to do – told him I wished to go on if it would not put others to inconvenience as I wished to get to my son as soon as possible; he said nothing, for he knew I should never see him again. It was known by all in Jonesborough but no one would tell me. …

We came on ten miles, I believe, to Mr. Devaults – … we crossed the river by moonlight – it was wide but shallow – spent the night at Mr. Devaults. In the morning after we had breakfast and were ready to start, I saw Capt. Carnes coming and ran to the door to meet him – asked the news from Bristol, he then told me the sad and to me, distressing news of poor Arthur’s death. … I returned to the room, threw myself on the bed and cried out in agony. O, that is too hard, too much, more than I can bear.

When dear C. died [daughter Charlotte died of typhus fever in 1863 at the age of 24], it was a very sore trial and I did nothing but weep, for months after; and then dear Ettie* but, I did not feel like replying against God. But this was such a shock I wish for death. The ladies stood around me and my kind hostess said, “I wish I could do something for you.”

Capt. Carnes told the ladies he disliked very much to tell me [about Arthur’s death] but [her son] Crozier told him before he left Bristol to do so. I suppose Crozier did not want to tell me himself.

… We crossed the Watauga [River] by moonlight, could see as well as in daylight, everything was so serene and beautiful, could have enjoyed it so much under other circumstances. I cannot write of these things without my eyes filling with tears, and often when the thought of these three lovely ones comes across my mind, I am obliged to throw it off and force my thoughts to some other subjects.

At Bristol we met with kindness from many of the ladies. Stayed at the Lancaster House eleven days where we were kindly treated by Mr. Lancaster and family. … It was hard living at Bristol, and as they [are] liable at any time to have [a] raid from the enemy, we thought best to leave the border and go into the interior of the Confederacy, especially as Crozier and McK. expected to leave that place [Bristol].

Poor Crozier delayed too long, he was caught with many others and taken to Knoxville and put into prison, were treated very badly. [Crozier, with] Mr. Wm. Sperry and Fox put in irons and marched through the streets of Knoxville, were taken from the Rebel Prison and put in with Yankee deserters and horse thieves – robbed of everything and expected to be murdered.

A Yankee officer came into the prison at night, made a speech to these lawless fellows, said these three Rebels were very bad men, he could do nothing, his hands were tied, but they could do with them as they pleased, and no injury should be made, that if he had his way they should soon be put out of the way.

The three lay back and heard all that he said. It was Christmas and the fellow had been drinking. After he left, Crozier got up, sat down by the fire, talked with the men and found them in good humor. They said we are not going to hurt you; we would rather kill that fellow; he had been having a jolly time while we are shut up and half starved.

Mr. Sperry came to NC and told us all about their capture and how they were treated at Knoxville. He said he was always so mad he could not talk to their enemies, and Mr. Fox was so scared [he could] say nothing, but Crozier always talked to them and amused them, so that they became his friends. …

We left Bristol in October 1864, arrived in July before. Went on to Charlotte, NC, the cars were in bad condition, very rough traveling, left Bristol 12 o’clock at night. There was very little light, no fire and it was very cold going through the mountains. When we got to B—-keville in Va. met the train from Richmond with many sick and wounded soldiers. They filled the car we were in, the gentlemen with us had to stand. It was distressing to hear the groans of the poor soldiers, all night and very dark … could be very kind to them, but had a poor chance to do anything for them, the car was so crowded. It was very unpleasant and dangerous trip; the road was not safe and the cars very shackling. That fearful high bridge in VA, was terrible and we went so slow, seemed as if we would never get to the end. But Providence took care of us and we went over that dangerous way without any accident.

6 MARCH 1865
Arrived here at Mr. Cannon’s this evening. My son J.G.M. Ramsey came with me. This is a pleasant place, kind and hospitable people. After dark, my nephew John Crozier came, we were very glad to see him. The last time was at our own home almost two years ago, then my dear son Arthur was with us, my heart yearned to this young boy whose presence brought up many sad recollections, and I wished I could do something for him. It is little I can do, now, for the soldiers. He was riding without a saddle, had no overcoat, was cheerful.

7 MARCH 1865
This morning the two young soldiers left to go to their command. McK. [name she calls her son James Gettys McKnitt Ramsey, probably to a void confusion with similar names in the family] to Wytheville, [nephew] John to Raleigh to [CSA cavalryman Gen. Joseph] Wheeler. When shall I see them again? God only knows and I pray to Him to protect them, it is always sad to part with soldiers. I commenced teaching the children, two little boys and one little girl, very pleasant children.

Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry capturing a supply train near Jasper, Tennessee

9 MARCH 1865
Four soldiers came here to stay all night, going to Raleigh, … they were wet and cold, had been raining all day. The family did everything for their comfort. They were S. Carolinians and told us of the desolations and cruelty of the enemy in that downtrodden state.

10 MARCH 1865
A bright day after the stormy weather yesterday. Went to church, this is the day of fasting and prayer, for our Confederacy. 

12 MARCH 1865
Heard yesterday from my son Alexander [Francis Alexander ‘Alex’ Ramsey] who is a prisoner, had not heard from him in six months. I was greatly relieved, had been extremely anxious …

20 MARCH 1865
Dr. Ramsey returns to Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County Court House, Charlotte, North Carolina

23 MARCH 1865
Letter from my son McK. Stayed one night at Liberty [VA] with our relations … saw his two cousins I. and O. Deaderick, just returned from prison, they had heard from Alex. McK. also saw an acquaintance of Alex from Camp Morton [Union prisoner-of-war camp in Indianapolis IN], who had seen A. [Alex], said he would be sent off soon. Heard too from poor Crozier [John Crozier Ramsey in Knoxville jail], the chains had been taken off and he is now treated better; his friends are now allowed to visit him, which was at first refused.

25 MARCH 1865
This is Dr. Ramsey’s birthday, no family union, no social cluster around the fireside now, no gathering around the beautiful table, our household scattered. Our home [in] ashes, three beloved ones taken from us, to a better home we trust, dear Crozier and Alexander, prisoners. Robert and McK. at the front, the rest of us scattered in NC, seldom more than two together.

27 MARCH 1865
Pleasant. All hands farming and gardening.

29 March 1865
My poor son Crozier very sick in hospital.

6 APRIL 1865
Letter from Dr. R. [Ramsey] says R. [Robert] and McK. in danger, would like to know when any of our poor boys were not in danger. Richmond given up; the armies falling back from VA and TN.

8 APRIL 1865
Dr. R. came to-day, seems hopeful, is not ready to give up our cause yet. A. not yet come.

9 APRIL 1865
General Lee surrenders.

Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

This cruel war is over.
After the American Civil War ends, the Ramseys are left homeless and penniless, with a “joint fortune of forty-two dollars of available money on which to start in the world again.” Margaret and her husband, both in their sixties, and three of their children [Elizabeth, Susan, and Robert]remain in western North Carolina, moving between Charlotte, Hopewell, and Salisbury. Dr. Ramsey returns to medical practice and begins writing short newspaper articles.

Despite receiving a presidential pardon from Andrew Johnson on and taking the amnesty oath, Dr. Ramsey remains in exile, fearing retribution and uncertain of what property he might be able to reclaim. Moreover, arch enemy Parson Brownlow has been appointed the U.S. Treasury agent in charge of abandoned property in the area.

16 APRIL 1865
This day two years ago our dear Charlotte died. Never a day passes but I think of her, of that sad time of distressing days and nights spent at our lovely home; then dear Arthur was with us and all the family except dear Crozier who was at Vicksburg. Now the household scattered; no two together.
C. [Crozier] and A. [Alex] prisoners,
R. [Robert] and McK [J.G. McKnitt] in the army, 
Sue in Charlotte, …
And their father, I know not where …

I realize this can be a little tedious to read, but it really is worth your time.

18 APRIL 1865    
Many soldiers from Gen. Lee’s army are returning, he has certainly surrendered. All who could are escaping. The lawless band at Concord still continue to annoy the citizens, are here every day. …

This evening we arose from supper, saw some one riding down the road. Mr. C. said there comes another and seemed perplexed. I went to the door, soon as he came though the gate, I exclaimed, “It is Robert.” All fears vanished, and I was so rejoiced for I had nearly given up hope of receiving any of our dear ones again.

Got to cousin Abbey’s last night after all had retired where E. was. Robert says he heard recently from Crozier, that he is well and treated kindly by many friends and was quite a favorite with the Yankees surgeon, who permitted C. to remain in the hospital. R. had also heard from A. saw some prisoners from C. Morton, said he was well and would get off soon. Of course I felt much better than for some days past. Mr. C. looks bright now, he is much relieved by R. being here.

Alum Cave Trail ascending towards Mount LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains

19 APRIL 1865
Dear Robert left this afternoon to go towards Charlotte to hear from Gen. [John C.] Vaughn. It distressed me to see him start off again. … I don’t want him to go but don’t know what advice to give, hope to see him again before he leaves, said McK would be here today perhaps. Sue or E. [Elizabeth] would come with him.

MINI BIO: Gen. John C. Vaughn
Vaughn organized a regiment on 6 June 1861, the Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment, which was captured at the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863. However, Vaughn and his men were soon exchanged and sent to guard the Tennessee-Virginia border.
In June 1864, USA General William Tecumseh Sherman had Vaughn’s family deported to Indiana, where they were to remain for the duration of the war for “corresponding with the enemy.”
When cavalryman Gen. John Hunt Morgan was killed on 4 September 1864, Vaughn took command of Confederate troops in East Tennessee.
After participating in Gen. James Longstreet’s attempt to occupy Knoxville in December 1863, Vaughn retreated to Northeast Tennessee. Soon after, Vaughn was given permission to mount his brigade. Remembered as the last Confederate general, Vaughn finally surrendered in Georgia on 10 May 1865, after separating from Confederate president Jefferson Davis’ entourage. Davis was captured later that day.

20 APRIL 1865  
Several soldiers from Gen. Lee’s army report Gen. Lee was treated with great respect. Gen. Grant refused his sword; the Yankees told our men they were brave soldiers, that if Gen. Lee had as many men as they had we never could be conquered.  Have an Armistice for 60 days for to make terms of peace.

22 APRIL 1865
McK. came. News of the death of Lincoln and Seward confirmed.

23 APRIL 1865
The Army being disbanded,  the country is filled with soldiers stealing horses, mules and every one has to keep watch.

27 APRIL 1865
Beautiful  weather; sad times, all confusion now. 

1 MAY 1865
Wheeler’s Cavalry encamped 2 miles from here, many of the Tennesseans called to see me, all nice, genteel young men. [The soldiers from other states are annoying the citizens, wanting everything and stealing horses, mules, etc.] Soldiers left this morning.

7 MAY 1865  
Dr. Ramsey came this morning, went to Augusta, had a fatiguing trip, was too feeble to attend church. Everything in confusion. Don’t know what we are to do.

14 MAY 1865
Went to church; met dear McK there, came home with us to dinner, it is so pleasant for us. McK. returned to meet now … we are all separated so much.

22 MAY 1865
Sue left this evening for Mecklenburg Co. [County]. Dr. Ramsey also. I am again left alone, but we must do something for our living. Now at 62 years of age I am teaching for my board. I often feel weary, sad, and lonely.

29 MAY 1865
A sad and lonely feeling came over me to-day, took a walk to a place which reminds me of home. Sat down on a stump and gave vent to my feelings. Our beautiful home all came up before me, the large and stately trees, the grand rivers, the deep and quiet French Broad, the more rapid Holston, the roaring of the shoals and the grand old bluff, so lofty, the green fields with growing grain etc. All these I was once mistress of. Now all occupied by the vandals who desolated our beautiful country. 

Now the old mansion where we dispensed hospitality with a liberal hand is in ashes. The shade trees, where our children played so happily, now stand all black and charred, not by thunder bolts, but by the ruthless hand of man.

Often when at our old home, Dr. Ramsey in playfulness, called me the duchess of Mecklenburg and dear C. the princess Charlotte. Now I am the poor governess.

2 JUNE 1865
Dr. Ramsey came this evening. He and our children had been in great distress, had heard dear Crozier had died in a northern prison. After three days of distressing suspense, heard it was another man. I find that it was during this time that I felt so lonely and depressed. We are powerless …

15 JUNE 1865
Another sad anniversary – dear Arthur my youngest son, the pet of the household, died this day one year ago, near Stanton Va. I hope to meet my lovely children in a better world, where there is no sin nor sorrow. Where the wicked cease from trembling and the weary are at rest. Arthur was a pleasant youth, every person loved him, his teachers always said he was the best boy in school. His captain and others of the Co. told me the same. Capt G. said he was so brave and stood fire like a man.

26 JUNE 1865
A letter from Sue, she heard Alex was to be at Rock Hill, the day before – the first news we have had of him for months, feared we should never see him more.

8 JULY 1865  
R. brought two letters from Mr. Deaderick, one from Gen. Vaughn, containing much news from Tenn. O! Tennessee how art thou fallen; the  best citizens driven off; when they return the soldiers shot [them] down at their homes.

14 JULY 1865
Alex and his Pa came this evening, almost two years since we three were together. Alex suffered greatly, prisoners at Camp Morton treated very badly – many died of ill treatment. [Camp Morton is a Union prisoner-of-war camp in Indianapolis, Indiana.]

21 JULY 1865
Dr. Ramsey came to see Col. B. A. who is here very sick, brought a letter from Crozier and one from M.J. I was so thankful  to hear from them and to know C. [Crozier] has been released and with his friends at Nashville, who are very kind to him, has been advised not to return to Knoxville as this is dangerous. …

A view of Nashville, Tennessee during the American Civil War

4 AUGUST 1865
Letter from J.C. Ramsey in Nashville, TN
To sister Elizabeth Ramsey Breck in Charlotte, NC

My Dear Sister
I was pleased to receive your very kind letter by to-days mail and was very glad to hear that Papa and Ma are well and that they stand our defeat and their loss of property with Christian fortitude, that is as it should be, but few persons of their age could have stood the troubles and trials they have had with such fortitude. …

I have commenced the practice of my profession [lawyer] and have had some business. … I am boarding with Uncle William [father’s brother, William B.A. Ramsey], they are all very kind to me, my health has improved though I am still weak, the walk however in the morning and evening I think will be of service to me soon. …

I am at a great [loss?] to know how to advise you all. I am like you; I have a great distaste for East TN but I don’t think that there would be any impropriety in you and Mack [husband?] returning to Knoxville on a visit and see if you can’t get your property back and then rent or sell it. I suppose you could get transportation. …

It will not be safe for Robert to come to Tennessee at present. I will let [him] know when to come if he wants to return. There are some cases pending in the State and Federal Courts at Knoxville against me; expect I will be compelled to be there in October or November to attend to them. I will however try to have them arranged without having to go there.

I have much appreciation for Pardon and my papers are in charge of Judge Patterson (President Andrew Johnson’s] son-in-law and M.S. Senator from TN). He is a particular friend of mine and visited me while [I was] imprisoned at Knoxville …  he also agreed to take charge of Papa’s case; he seems to think that we will have no difficulty in getting them through. I expect to hear from him in a week or two about our applications and will let Papa know the result of his application. …

I frequently hear from Knoxville and see every day or two some one from the place; the sentiment is still bad and outrages are still committed upon Southern men. No prominent Southern men have returned and what are there are making arrangements to leave.

I get letters from M.J. [sister Margaret Jane] most every week, she is well, as to her marriage I presume she is satisfied with it and of course I am. I hope … Mr. McKnitt will make her a kind and an affectionate husband. She has had a hard time of it; few women could have gone through what she has. She was very devoted to me while I was in prison there and was of great service to me. She writes me some very good letters (one of the very best I ever received) I am saving it to show it to you all. She is a Christian and a noble woman. What a great pleasure it would be to us all if we were all living near each other.

I don’t know how Pap would like to live in East TN again but I have no doubt but what he could live in comfort and with more care on Margaret Jane’s place than any other. I have no doubt but what it would be perfectly safe for him there (after a while).No one would do him any personal harm; the class of man that are committing these outrages are worthless, and the moral men of the country are doing all they can to put a stop to it. Public sentiment will soon correct the outlaws. I doubt the propriety of a man of his age moving to a new country among strangers unless he had means. These are questions for future considerations; you are all quaintly situated, and it is best to wait patiently until the country becomes settled and peace entirely returned; and then we can better judge as to what will be the best.

What a great contrast between this peace place [Nashville] and East TN. Here there is no distinction between Union and Southern men, that is as it should be. I often think of you all with the kindest of feelings and would be pleased to be with you all once more, and I hope to may be able to do so some time. Remember me kindly and affectionately to all. Will be pleased to hear from you all often.
Yours truly
J.C. Ramsey
Letter, J. Crozier Ramsey in Nashville, Tenn., to Mrs. E.A.R. Breck in Charlotte, N.C. 1865 Aug. 4

11 AUGUST 1865
Letter from J.C. Ramsey, Nashville TN.   
To his mother, M.B.C. [Margaret Barton Crozier] Ramsey, Charlotte NC.

My Dear Ma,
I received yours and Papas letters yesterday and was glad to hear that you were all well. I read all your letters with great interest and my Uncle and his family, who read them with great pleasure. My Uncle [William B.A. Ramsey] and all of them are very kind to me; he is very comfortably situated and his two married daughters live near him; they also have a Church near him and I go to church every Sunday. Mr. Trimble (their pastor) is a good preacher. I think … about your situation and troubles.

I have taken great interest about the state of feelings in East TN and there is scarcely a day but what I see either a Union or Southern man from there and I always make it my business to enquire as to the condition of things with a view as to advise you all as to the propriety of returning. I have no doubt but the reports you hear from there are exaggerated.

My own opinion based upon what I hear is that you could all return with perfect safety (except Robert) without … fears of having any personal harm done …neither would you be subject to any insults of any kind.

I met with Capt. John McNutt (of the Fork and formerly of the Federal army) a few days ago. I spent most of the day with him and took him out and spent the night with us at my Uncle’s; he has the kindest feeling for you all and from him I learned the particulars as to the feeling about you all; he says that all your old neighbors, such men as Sam Bowman and others, are very anxious for you to return and instead of having any thing against you they have great sympathy for you but would [do] any thing in their power to serve you all.

John thinks you should all return at once. … you would be better satisfied if you move near your grandchildren where you could take care of the poor motherless children, although you could live comfortably where you are, yet your anxiety for them would always make you uneasy and still you would not be satisfied where you are. Secondly by returning home the moral effect would be good in getting back your property. …

Aside from this I believe that you could live cheaper and more comfortably and contented than where you are. You could live at Margaret Jane’s place in town or at Lenoir’s in case. Another reason when you return if you should conclude not to remain there you would be in a better condition to select under the advice of your friends a future home. I would therefore make Knoxville home (at least) for future operations. I would feel much more contented, happy and less solicitous about you all if you move back at your old home than for you all still to remain exiles—that gives me more pain than my own condition …unless you have made up your minds never to return …

I would advise you that when the weather gets cool and more pleasant for traveling (say the last of Sept or early in October) I would start for East TN … by that time Papa will I hope receive his pardon. I believe all will turn out well and that you will all be glad that you have returned. … Aunt Hannah and Aunt Mary had returned. Uncle Frank Keller was also at home. … Frank Ramsey (Uncle John’s son) had also returned and was living at home undisturbed. … Remember me kindly and affectionately to all. Will be pleased to hear from you all at any time.
Yours truly,
J.C. Ramsey

Son John (1824–1868) goes by many variations of his name:
John Crozier Ramsey
John C. Ramsey
J. Crozier Ramsey
J.C. Ramsey

31 AUGUST 1865
Letter from J.C. Ramsey in Nashville TN
To his father J.G.M. Ramsey in Charlotte NC

I wrote Ma a letter about two weeks ago – and supposed that I would have got a letter from some of you before this time. For fear you may have heard of my arrest and be alarmed about it – I thought I would write you. When I was released at Louisville in June and returned to this place, I knew of the indictments pending against me at Knoxville both in the State and Federal Court – but I know that if I remained in the U.S. I would have to meet the case some time or another. I then made up my mind to stand my ground and meet the cases and have them disposed of at court.

I then met the Sheriff of this county and the Marshal and had an interview with them and told them that I expected I would be sent to them from Knoxville for my arrest and that I did not intend to avoid them—but that I desired before entering into business to make an arrangement with them not to arrest me until court and then I would go with them – they agreed to it – and then I commenced business.

After remaining here some six weeks a different set of circumstances arose and the Sheriff felt it his duty to arrest me and take me to Knoxville where I was bailed upon a writ of Habeas Corpus and returned to this place [Nashville] and have again resumed business. I do not reflect upon the Sheriff for making the arrest.

So you see that I am not yet through with all my troubles and trials – but do not allow them to trouble you or give you any uneasiness about them. I will come out of them all right – but it will put me to some trouble and expense. So you fully may understand the case, I send you an article taken from the Nashville Gazette which gives a correct version of the facts of the case and the legal principles that ought to control the case.

I was imprisoned at Knoxville (which was a week). I met with several of my friends and frequently with my dear Sister … her devotion to me which in all my troubles is unequaled and she was of great service to me and I can never forget her kindness and attachment tome (not only on this occasion but in all my troubles.

The sentiment is still bad there [Knoxville] – when I was released on bail I remained in prison until the [railroad] cars started and then I was accompanied with a guard to the Depot. … I have to return the third Monday in Oct. I think things will be better by that time, I at least don’t apprehend any difficulty.

I read yesterday your letter to my Uncle – Glad to hear you are all well and that you have got a place for the next year – perhaps it is best for you to stay there for another year – though I still think as I wrote to Ma that you could all return (except Robert) with safety. … All our friends and relatives at Knoxville are well and all are well here.
Love to all and will be pleased to hear from all of you often …  
Yours truly,
J.C. Ramsey

These arrests and charges stem from J.C. Ramsey’s position as Confederate Attorney General for Knox County during the Civil War.

Letter from J. Crozier Ramsey in Nashville TN
To sister Elizabeth Ramsey Breck in Charlotte NC
My Dear Sister I received your very kind letter and was sorry to hear that Ma and Sue had been sick. I hope however they will soon be restored to their usual health. I am glad that you all have gone to house keeping. I am now satisfied (from what I hear from Knoxville) that you have acted wisely in remaining where you are. The outrageous scenes that are constantly transpiring there is disgraceful to humanity and civilization and is almost beyond description. I however will be compelled to be there the third Monday in Oct. I do not anticipate the trip with pleasure. I have no fears at the result of my case, but the outside feeling is not so good; but you need give yourself no uneasiness about my safety. …

I also received Papa’s letter five days ago, enclosing me a copy of his application for pardon. … I think he need have no fears. I think President Johnson will pardon him and all others soon. … I was highly pleased with his [father’s] speech, he will come out all right as I knew he would, he will be the best friend the South has and it becomes us all cordially to sustain him. …

I will write to Judge Patterson to day and see if he can’t get the President to order the return of your farm without you visiting Knoxville – if so, we can rent it out for you. … My practice as yet is quite limited and it takes all I make to keep up my necessary expenses. Say to Papa that if he has my pocket book containing my notes – and has an opportunity of sending it – to send it to me – perhaps there may be some of them that I can collect or make something out of them. Remember me kindly to all – will be pleased to hear from you all at any time.
Yours truly,
J.C. Ramsey

8 OCTOBER 1865
Letter from J. Crozier Ramsey in Nashville TN
To his father J.G.M. Ramsey in Charlotte NC
Dear Sir: I returned from Washington City a day or two ago and was pleased to get your letter on my return and was glad to hear that you were all well and so comfortably situated. I think under the circumstances you all have done very well. I visited Washington for the purpose of attending to some business for a friend – who paid me for my services – and if I should be finally successful – I will get a good fee …

The President received me very cordially, so did his son Robert and my friend Judge Patterson. The Judge assured me that I would get my pardon next week or any how by the time the Federal Court meets at Knoxville.

I then went to the Attorney Generals office to examine your case. I found that your application had passed through his office with his approval and was on the Presidents table for his signature. …

I then called the attention of the Judge to those two cases and he assured me that they would be approved of by the President.
Love to all,
Yours truly,
J.C. Ramsey

12 OCTOBER 1865
Letter from J. Crozier Ramsey in Nashville TN
To his father Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey in Charlotte NC
Dear Sir: I received this morning a letter from Uncle Deadrick stating that the Attorney General had agreed to have my cases continued until the next Term of the Court waiving my appearance at this Term. … I received a letter from Margaret Jane [sister] a few days ago – she was well and things were more quiet [in Knoxville] – but a large number of citizens were leaving.

As I am released for some time about my cases, I will now turn my attention to the investigation of your property. … I expect to write in a few days to Judge Brown and get him to examine correctly all the principles involved in your cases. … If they think you can recover, suits should be instituted at once. I fear however that they will be long and tedious suits – but still if there is any possibility of a recovery – it is worth a trial. …
Yours truly,
J.C. Ramsey

22 OCTOBER 1865
Diary entry
Received a letter yesterday from dear Crozier[J.C. Ramsey], our anxiety was much relieved on his account as last week was the time he was to be in Knoxville for trial, but his case was continued until the next term in April. As Crozier has been sent twice to Knoxville and put in prison and received such rough treatment, of course we were uneasy. In Sept. while quietly attending to business at Nashville, not expecting to be molested till Oct. the time of his trial, he was suddenly arrested, taken to Knoxville remanded to prison. He was kept only a week, gave bail, but had to remain in jail till night on account of mob, was then guarded to the train and returned to Nashville. …

10 NOVEMBER 1865
Diary entry
On 10 November 1865, Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey received a pardon from President Andrew Johnson. It was sent to Crozier in Nashville. On 2 December, Dr. Ramsey informed U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward that he had taken the amnesty oath.

13 NOVEMBER 1865
Letter from J. Crozier Ramsey in Nashville TN
To Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey in Charlotte NC

Dear Sir I received your letter a few days ago also a letter and my pocketbook by Express. … You can’t imagine how much I am pleased when I receive letters from you all. There is not a day passes but what I frequently think of you all – and how I would rejoice to see you all settled at some quiet and pleasant home in TN. I hope the day is not distant when that time will come.

You ask how my health is and how I am off for money. I have improved in flesh and strength since I was released from prison – but still I wish I had more strength and flesh. I could attend to business with more ease and pleasure. I have been getting some practice but … my expenses are considerable … the greatest thing I miss is my law library – I lost all my books at Knoxville. … I now work out of necessity without any taste for it.

As to the sale of your property, I can hardly advise you what to do – if you are really compelled to have money, my advice would be to sell even at a sacrifice – but if not, I would not. …

I understand that that property has not been sold or confiscated – and consequently when the pardon comes it will be restored to you. … It is very hard for me to get any correct information from them about any of your business there. … I know there are persons that will take the advantage of you and others that have property for sale and try and get it for less than its value – by forcing you to sell … that was the object of a great many in bringing about the condition East TN is now in – in order that they might get your property for little of nothing before I would be forced to sell under those circumstances (unless you need the money.) We will make one more effort and I hope we will be more successful. …
Yours truly
J.C. Ramsey

19 NOVEMBER 1865
Diary entries
Mrs. Ramsey in exile in NC
After Col. A.’s death, this property was all advertised for note, we apprehended we should have to move again. Everything has been settled and we remain under the first contract made with Col. A. … There is but little generosity here – the people have no sympathy for refugees and those who have lost all; because they have lost their Negroes, they feel that loss is greater that any and have no time to think of those who have lost houses, lands, etc.

25 DECEMBER 1865
Christmas, no presents now – how different from Christmas of former days. Shall we ever have home again? It can never be as it once was – so many beloved ones will be missing from the fireside.

Christmas Dinner: A Scene on the Outer Picket Line, Library of Congress

31 DECEMBER 1865
The last [day] of 65. How rapidly time flies! Where shall we be the last day of 66? That is a question cannot be answered, everything is so uncertain, we may be in a worse condition than at present. We are comfortable here. On many accounts it is an unpleasant place to live. Rain and gloomy weather for the past two weeks, no sociality, no friendship, no attention to strangers.
We have been sick here – McK, Sue, and I …  could get no flour or any delicacy for the sick, our cook was a very poor one, we were not able to attend to it ourselves … Dr. Ramsey went to a lady who had some good wine and she gave him some.

J.G.M. Ramsey’s net worth has dropped to only $5,180; he has lost nearly everything during the war.

1871: Home again
J.G.M. and Margaret Barton Crozier Ramsey eventually make their way back to Northeast Tennessee, once again stopping at the town of Bristol in Sullivan County where Margaret stayed for awhile on her way to North Carolina in 1864. J.G.M. spends the rest of his life promoting higher education in East Tennessee and serves ten years as president of the Tennessee Historical Society.

S. G. Heiskell, “A Visit to Mecklenburg,” Andrew Jackson and Early Tennessee History, vol. 2, pp. 117-118, accessed 30 August 2021,

“Diary of Margaret B. Crozier Ramsey, written while in exile in North Carolina during the American Civil War, accessed 8 September 2021,

William B. Hesseltine, editor, “Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey: Autobiography and Letters,” The University of Tennessee Press, accessed 23 September 2021,

Meredith Anne Grant, “Internal Dissent: East Tennessee ‘s Civil War, 1849-1865,” East Tennessee State University, 2008,  accessed 30 August 2021,

“James Gettys McGready Ramsey,” Tennessee Encyclopedia, The Tennessee Historical Society, 8 October 2017, accessed 30 August 2021,

Erin Lawrimore, “Let Us Hasten to Redeem the Time that is Lost: J.G.M. Ramsey’s Role in the Preservation and Promotion of Tennessee History,” NC DOCKS at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 31 December 2005, accessed 17 September 2021,

William A. Strasser Jr. “Our Women Played Well Their Parts”: East Tennessee Women in the Civil War Era, 1860-1870,” 1999, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, accessed 30 August 2021,

Margaret Kathleen Logan, “Rebel Ladies in a Divided Land: The Impact of War on East Tennessee Confederate Women,” University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Spring 2007, accessed 30 August 2021,

Josephine Hooke, Civil War Refugee

Born in Fort Payne, Alabama, Josephine Hooke moves to Chattanooga TN with her family while still a child. In 1863 her father, Judge Robert McGinley Hooke, is a prominent member of the Confederate establishment in Chattanooga TN; he serves as a Confederate enlistment supervisor in Chattanooga and sends three of his sons to war. Hooke is also a wanted man; because he and Jefferson Davis are friends, the Union has put a price on his head.

The city of Chattanooga in 1864

21 AUGUST 1863
When the Union Army begins bombarding Chattanooga on 21 August 1863, Judge Hooke is in a hurry to leave town. As an investor in the East Tennessee railroads, he has connections. He obtains a railroad boxcar, removes the seats, and moves his family in. Josephine and her family flee from Chattanooga on the railroad car.
Twenty-two-year-old Josephine Hooke keeps a diary in which she details her experiences on the train and in the cities they visit. She writes about her day-to-day life. Early in the war, Josephine’s diary entries show that she believes the war will end soon and her life will return to normal. As time passes, those hopes are dashed; and she concentrates on making the best of the situation. As she attempts to focus on her daily life, Josephine is unable to distract herself from her greater concerns about her family.
The Hooke family spend months on the train, traveling from place to place to stay ahead of the Union Army, stopping first in Dalton, GA—where her brother Robert is a clerk in the Confederate Armyand then moving farther south. They have to adjust to their frequent movement and life on the railroad.
They do their best to continue doing domestic chores. Josephine notes in her journal that she is sewing, and in late 1863 she records having to make alterations to their clothing. Though her thoughts frequently turn to her family’s plight, she records the events and her feelings about their situation.

and where O where are they all gone—fled for refuge from the vile merciless invaders of our homes. How long, O how long will God permit this cruel war to rage? Are we not humbled? Why do we not forsake our sins and be saved.

Josephine Hooke and her family also continue to receive visitors. Even as they travel by boxcar, rarely knowing where they would go next, friends come to share news and enjoy their company. Family friend Captain Clark comes to spend time with the family and brings a Confederate newspaper to them. During a particularly hot spell that September, Hooke remarks:

We receive all our company under the trees, night or day, ladies or gentlemen.

She reports in her diary that the Union troops at Chattanooga are defeated and flee the city. The next day, however, she receives a visitor who declares the rumor is untrue and assures her that federal soldiers still control the city. This misinformation about the Civil War continues throughout their travels, even when they are within a few miles of a battle.
September 1863
As fall comes, colder weather is a hardship those on the trains had to endure. In her diary entry for September 18, 1863, Josephine laments:

Never have we felt the loss of home so much as tonight. We have no stove in our cars and to feel the bleak weather coming on makes us think of the dear old home we have left and all the comforts with which we were surrounded. None but those who have been exiles, wanderers in a strange land, can sympathize.

Brother enlists in the Confederate Army
Two more of her brothers also enlist in the army at some point.

Ma is very sad all day today Brother Bob [Robert Hooke] left us last night to go to Maj. Bransford. … We are done with seeing our brothers or having them with us while the war continues.

Hooke later reunites with her brothers, but her spirits fall when she discovers that:

“Orders [have] come for the boys to go to the front.”

Josephine is unable to attend church while her family lives on the road. She is clearly distraught and longs:

… to be at home … to attend church, hear Cousin Tom preach, [and] sit in the choir.

She worries about their situation and often wonders when the war will end and where her family will be forced to go next. Concerned with the fate of her home in Chattanooga, Josephine Hooke does her best to monitor the Yankee occupation and Rebel attempts to reclaim the city. She calls the federal occupiers of Chattanooga, “merciless invaders.” When she hears of the capture of a Tennessean known as a traitor to the Confederacy, she expresses hope that he will be “executed as a spy.”

When Josephine hears about the destruction of Chattanooga, she writes:

and where O where are they all gone—fled for refuge from the vile merciless invaders of our homes. How long, O how long will God permit this cruel war to rage? Are we not humbled? Why do we not forsake our sins and be saved.

Hooke often turns to God to plead for an end to the war and her family’s troubles. She begs God to intervene, passionately crying:

How long, 0′ how long will God permit this cruel war to rage. Are we not humbled? Why do we not forsake our sins and be saved?

25 November 1863
As the train travels on, Hooke writes in her diary about hearing news of the terrible Battle on Missionary Ridge:

O, that we were nearer the scene of conflict that we might assist in taking care of the wounded. To be able to relieve in some degree the suffering of any soldier who bleeds in defense of our homes should be esteemed an honor and a privilege by Southern women.

12 December 1863
Josephine Hooke takes time to note in her diary, what a “‘dreary, rainy” Saturday. Her thoughts might have been with her brothers in the Confederate Army, and she does not know if they are alive or dead. The family begin to lose hope:

I think now our chance of getting … home is poor, in fact our hope is almost gone.

17 April 1865
Letter from brother Robert Hooke:

In Dockie’s [another brother?] letter he said he was having a real good time visiting the young ladies &c., and oh how homesick I got on reading it. … I would give anything on earth to be there.

In this letter, dated just over a week after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox [9 April 1865], Hooke also mentions his regiment’s plans of “going either down near Florida or west;” but he did not mention surrendering.
The Hookes do eventually return to Chattanooga, though I cannot find the details of their later lives. Josephine Hooke never marries and lives out her life in the company of her sister Lilyan. By the time she would have been considering marriage prospects, the Civil War has already taken its toll on the young male population of the South, changing the marriage outlook for many women in Hooke’s age group and social class.

The diary Josephine Hooke kept exchanges hands a few times and eventually ends up in the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, TN. The diary ends up in the hands of a relative who later becomes a historical archivist in Tennessee for the Federal Writer’s Project, a government jobs program FDR starts during the Great Depression. Through her, Josephine’s diary is now housed in the Tennessee State library.


19 JULY 1862
Letter from R. C. Bransford [CSA]
To Miss Josephine H. Hooke
Relative to loneliness and news from East Tennessee in the wake of Forrest’s raid.
July 19/62
Miss Josephine:
I received your letter of the 9th Inst. but I had so much to do when I arrived at this place that I hardly knew at what point to begin. I now realize the difficulty of one person trying to do or discharge the duties of more than one officer, it was ever my luck to fall heir to the duties of the acting Secty. & Tr., which I regard as an unenviable position. … I feel that the day is not far distant when I shall be allowed to once more visit my home, the dearest place to me on earth, and that the Northern Vandals will be driven from the soil of our beloved Tennessee.
I learned this morning that Gen. [Don Carlos] Buell USA has fallen back from Bridgeport & Battle Creek to Tullahoma TN, where I think they will make a stand for a short time to enable his army to make a successful retreat from Tennessee. I think Buell will attempt to make a final stand at Bowling Green, KY, if our army makes an advance movement into Middle Tennessee, which they will be sure to do if the enemy will fall back as we advance until they get into KY.
I presume you have heard of the capture of Murfreesboro TN by Gen. [Nathan Bedford] Forrest CSA, the fight commenced at 4 o’clock A. M. and lasted until 2 P. M., he took 1200 prisoners, killed 200, one Battery, one Major, and one Brigadier Genl. was captured. He destroyed and captured though 1/2 Million Dollars worth of army stores [and] the N.&C.R.R. Depot was burned. It contained over two hundred thousand dollars worth of Commissary Stores. It is said to be one of the most brilliant feats performed since the war commenced. … It is said that Middle Tennessee is at present all in a blaze, the enthusiasm of our friends is beyond conceptions they hope soon to be set free from the hand of the oppressor, “so mite it be.”
I am sorry you are so lonely in your adopted home. I can appreciate and sympathize deeply with you to leave home & go so far away in the midst of strangers is not a pleasant task. Do you know that I look upon you as being one of the best friends I ever had in my life and that I could entrust you with the most sacred secrets of my heart. It is true, and I hope you regard me in the same light.
I could tell many amusing anecdotes in regard to one person, that I have heard since I saw you last, but will defer telling you until I see you, which I hope will be soon. I regret that I was deprived of the honor of being one of the party who gave you such a nice serenade. How I envy those fellows. I hope they have repeated their visit. It is most cheering to one so far away from the scenes of early life.
 hope you will not give up your Tennessee sweetheart and take a young knight of Georgia. The young gent who asked after you on my first visit to this place is at present in the City, having just returned from Lynchburg. I do not believe he is any sweetheart of yours. It was J. T. W. who is he that can claim as your sweetheart, you say he makes Chattanooga his headquarters. You had better not tell me, I might have a spider put in his dumpling. I know you would then grieve yourself to death.
I am very much pleased with the sweetheart you gave me. She is very pretty and will make a good wife, but it would be presumption in me to think that she cared a straw for one so unworthy of her as myself. How do you know but what she loves someone else, and you do not know but I may love some one else better than I do her, if that be so, what course will you pursue in that case?
I have not seen Will Ward, the young man I gave you, since I left Marietta. I understand that he has returned to his home in Carthage TN. I have not seen Miss Ellen’s paragon; I hope the Yankees have caught him.
Chattanooga is as dull as a meat axe. … When do you expect to move up? Gordon has rented another house. I hope your Paw will move soon. Mr. Anderson wishes to be remembered to your family. Please present my regards to Miss Nellie, Miss Ellen, Miss Georgia, yourself, your Ma, and all the children.
Please write soon, and believe me, as ever
Your devoted friend
R. C. Bransford
P.S. Since closing this, a gentleman informs me that Gen. Buell is not falling back as reported …

Almost a year later Miss Hooke receives this letter from R. C. Bransford’s brother John. I am sure there were many other letters in the interim, but these are the only ones I found.

15 JUNE 1863
A plea for fresh vegetables
Letter from Major John S. Bransford [CSA]
To Miss Josephine Hooke, a plea for fresh vegetables (Hamilton County)
Chattanooga, Tenn.
June 15/63
Miss Hooke:
My friend and fellow Quartermaster, Capt. Wickham, who has been confined to his room for several weeks with a broken ankle, and who has had nothing good to eat during all this time, has excited my sympathy. Will you not therefore, be so kind as to place a few vegetables on a plate and sent them today, to the Captain by my servant boy Allen?
I would not ask such a favor scarcely of any one else, but knowing how generous the impulses of your nature are, induces me to call those divine attributes into exercise. Besides, I have a pride in desiring to show Capt. W. how well I am living, and how truly fortunate I am in being permitted to live in your agreeable and elegant Family.
Capt. W., being unwell, has little or no appetite and I wish you to send only what a sick man could eat. I mean in quantity. Everything from Mrs. Hooke’s table is excellent in quality. The reception of a few vegetables will prove, I am sure, an agreeable surprise to my afflicted fellow officer.
I do not have to eat [as] well as some men, but it really affords me genuine pleasure to boat abroad of what we daily have at “My House.” To hear me speak you would imagine I owned the establishment, and I never pretend to say that I am boarding here. In fact, I am living at Home—and about turning me off, as your good mother talks about, I wonder if she seriously contemplates turning a poor fellow out into the starving world.
I am not surprised that a lady of Mrs. Whiteside’s good taste and good sense should quit her own home for a happy sojourn in the Household that is a home for us all. But I have said more that I intended—but nothing more than I feel is true. Yesterday while I was at Mr. Warner’s I could not let the opportunity to pass, when Mr. McIver’s name was mentioned, to tell the young ladies how very fortunate Van had made in securing a seat at your pleasant table. Feeling sure that no one could surpass in times like these the well deserved dinner of yesterday, I was compelled to give them a list of what we had for dinner, or an every day meal.
But it is not what I get that attracts me so strongly to the family. Like it is the agreeable society with which you surround us that delights me most.
Capt. W. dines at 3 o’clock, and Allen can start after one o’clock and reach him in time.
With much esteem, I remain
Your friend,
John S. Bransford.


David Laprad, “Ethno-historian publishes first-hand civilian account,” Hamilton County Herald, accessed 10 September 2021,

Joan Brown, “Southern Women and Children in the Civil War,” Southern White Women as Refugees During the United States Civil War, accessed 6 September 2021,

Margaret Kathleen Logan, “Rebel Ladies in a Divided Land: The Impact of War on East Tennessee Confederate Women,” accessed 6 September 2021,

Andrew N. Morris, “The Civil War in the West 1863,” The U.S. Army Campaigns of the Civil War, Center of Military History, United States Army,

James J. W. Scott, “‘Liberty is the word with me’: The ideologies and allegiances of Civil War soldiers in Hamilton County,” University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 2014, accessed 6 September 2021,

When Josephine hears about the destruction of Chattanooga, she writes: I think now our chance of getting … home is poor, in fact our hope is almost gone.”